ReHarvest Center relocates closer to downtown

Nine months to the day since it opened in November, the Metropolitan Development Council’s ReHarvest Center celebrated a second grand opening Friday.

The ReHarvest Center – a non-profit program designed to create employment opportunities through salvaging reusable products – has moved from its former location at 9614 20th Ave. E. to 1113 St. Paul Ave.

“This location, I think it’s better,” said Manny Cepriano, ReHarvest Center sales and acquisition representative.

He cited the more affordable rent and the greater traffic flow – the ReHarvest Center is located right off of the east side of the Murray Morgan Bridge, which connects downtown Tacoma’s 11th Street with the port activities on the Tideflats.

“We’ve had a lot of people come in,” he said of the all day – 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. – grand opening celebration, complete with decorative balloons and refreshments for those who came by.

He also lauded the old wooden building’s character, which is in keeping with the center’s dedication to recycling.

“This has more of a rustic feel,” he said. “But it’s a neat building.”

The ReHarvest Center’s new home is only about a third the size of the center’s previous home, a metallic warehouse that he characterized as “generic.”

The building contains about 4,700 square feet of indoor space and about the same amount of outdoor space, said Jan McLellan, ReHarvest Center program administrator.

The smaller size of the building, however, works to the ReHarvest Center’s advantage, Cepriano explained.

“We can be a little more selective of the quality of products we take as donations,” he said.

The service provided by the ReHarvest Center works like this: Structures are dismantled board by board and nail by nail by workers using small hand tools. Recovered materials are then made available for sale at the ReHarvest Center, usually at prices based on 40 percent to 60 percent of retail value.
“We’ve got a little bit of everything,” Cepriano said.

Items reclaimed include – but are not limited to – beams, dimensional lumber, cabinetry, doors, windows, masonry, fixtures, trim, landscaping and architecturally sensitive and historically significant items.

Donations are accepted at the center, and are reviewed to see if they are appropriate. Donators receive a tax deductible receipt for their contribution.

“It’s always affordable,” said James Southern, Jr., ReHarvest Center’s lead deconstruction technician, of the lower cost materials available to customers.

These marked down goods are perfect for people on a budget or those who can’t otherwise afford to pay full retail price for new construction materials.

“Senior citizens can find things they need here,” Southern pointed out, as an example.

There is also a new wood craft section, McLellan noted, with items for sale that were constructed by the center’s own employees.

The ReHarvest Center, however, provides much more than recycling and better prices on construction stock.

It also provides work training and employment opportunities for area residents.

“It creates jobs,” said Southern, who spends his work days taking apart buildings and gathering the materials that are sold by the ReHarvest Center.

And Southern is a man who enjoys his work.

“It’s fun,” he said, “because you get to see how things are put together, taking them apart.”

A seemingly permanent smile plastered on her face, McLellan seemed happy – if a little tired – with the day’s grand opening.

As for the future, she said she was looking into having some repair work done on the building’s exterior.

She is also concerned about the possible closing of the Murray Morgan Bridge, which could hurt drive-by traffic.

Tacoma’s ReHarvest Center came to fruition after MDC officials got a look at a deconstruction retail facility in Portland, Ore. Following some research and a feasibility study, as well as a grant to secure initial capital funds for the project, the ReHarvest Center opened on Nov. 8, 2002.

The ReHarvest Center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

The ReHarvest Center can be reached at 253/531-5845.