CWU News

CWU Signs Lease Agreement with the City of Sammamish, Earns NWCCU Approval

Central Washington University President James L. Gaudino Tuesday signed a lease with the City of Sammamish allowing the university to begin offering educational programs in September at the site of the former Mars Hill Church.

The signing occurred on the same day the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), the post-secondary education accreditation organization for the Pacific Northwest and surrounding states, approved CWU’s request to offer educational instruction at the Sammamish site. 

Under the terms of the new lease, CWU will provide Running Start programs in the vacant facility in Sammamish. Running Start allows eligible high school juniors and seniors to enroll in tuition-free college courses and earn both high school and college credits.

“Central is pleased to partner with Sammamish to provide higher education academic programs that will benefit local high school students,” Gaudino said. “With four high schools within a few miles of the site, we’re confident that this is the ideal location for us to offer this type of postsecondary educational program.”

Gaudino said the facility in Sammamish will complement CWU’s existing extended learning programs at its six existing University Centers, which include Lynnwood, Des Moines, Pierce County, Moses Lake, Wenatchee, and Yakima, as well as satellite operations in Everett and at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

The president said these programs traditionally provide face-to-face, interactive television, and online classes. The flexible approach provides greater access to students, especially those who have work and family commitments.
The lease includes an initial three-year occupancy by CWU with a base rent of $60,000 per year. Central has the option to purchase the property for $8 million, extend the lease term in five-year increments for up to 15 additional years, or end the agreement.

The City of Sammamish will provide custodial services as well as maintain landscaping and the parking lot while CWU will provide security and routine maintenance of the building and pay the cost of utilities.

In March 2015, the City of Sammamish purchased the facility for the purpose of partnering with a postsecondary institution to offer courses and academic programs.

In spring of 2016, CWU studied the feasibility of providing academic programming at the 22.4-acre property, which boasts a two-story, multi-purpose facility of nearly 31,000 square feet. As a result of that study, which called the concept promising, the university and city began discussions to analyze and determine the extent of cooperation between the two entities and drafted a memorandum of understanding that resulted in the lease agreement.

CWU will be completing minor building renovations of the facility for the next several months to prepare classroom and office space. The university is also having ongoing discussions with the Sammamish Community YMCA to sub-lease the gymnasium/multi-purpose area of the building, which hopes to use it for various community activities.

Additionally, as part of the lease agreement with the city, CWU inherits two existing subleases: one with the Microsoft Corporation for employee parking and the other with the High Velocity Volleyball Club. Both subleases are expected to remain in place into the future.


Media contact: Richard Moreno, director of content development, 509-963-2714,

—March 22, 2017