RAINIER HEALTH & FITNESS / EMERALD CITY COMMONS / URBAN IMPACT
RVCDF financing enabled development of Emerald City Commons and build a new fitness club, Rainier Health and Fitness.
Urban Impact—a health care and social service agency started in 1987—has been serving Rainier Valley families for more than 30 years. Since its inception, the organization has been committed to partnering with families and communities to break the cycle of social, material and spiritual poverty.
Rainier Health and Fitness (RHF)—a subsidiary of Urban Impact—was started in 2005 in response to the lack of affordable fitness resources in the area, as well as a news story citing 98118 as one of the unhealthiest neighborhoods in Seattle. At the time, co-founders Ryan Schmid and Tausili Kalepo were driving 20 minutes outside of their South Seattle neighborhoods to find a facility to work out together.
RHF is a membership-based business operating as a nonprofit for the community. Members enjoy scholarships, free group classes, and free childcare. Personal training and small group training services are more affordable than most gyms, and RHF offers volunteer opportunities in exchange for membership. It has even designated specific classes as women-only in order to provide a less intimidating space for women to work-out together.
“With a diverse, multi-ethnic community from every socio-economic sector across cultures and religions, Rainier Health and Fitness has become a model of how our community works together, builds relationships and looks after one another,” says Executive Director Steve Bury. “We’re able to generate income while operating as a nonprofit, while at the same time we offer a product that actually affects the livelihoods of homes within our community. And the community has an opportunity to invest in the gym through memberships, volunteering, and supporting one another.”
RVCDF worked with Urban Impact to finance land and pre-development costs for Emerald City Commons (formerly Impact Family Village), which includes 61 units of affordable housing plus 5,800 square feet of commercial space that now houses Rainier Health and Fitness. Upon completion, Emerald City Commons was funded through the City of Seattle’s Housing Levy Fund. However, Urban Impact needed purchase financing for the commercial portion that would be the new Rainier Health and Fitness facility—RVCDF stepped in to provide the long term financing. “RVCDF was a huge support,” says Bury. “We never even considered conventional financing. We have been involved with RVCDF since its beginning, so we were excited to develop a working relationship.”
With the support of RVCDF, Urban Impact was able to expand RHF from a tight 3,800-square foot space serving roughly 1,200 members to a beautiful, expansive 5,800-square foot facility that has already grown to more than 1,800 members with a $200,000 increase in revenue and a $100,000 increase in net profits.
The organization recently launched a personal training and CrossFit certified apprenticeship program to train young adults in fitness education and life skills geared towards employment, and are exploring the idea of developing a nutrition program to complement personal training.
“We were very well-served by the team at RVCDF,” added Bury. “The staff and our rep worked together to help our dreams become reality. Our project would probably not have become a reality without RVCDF’s support and advocacy.”