Northwest Montana United Way is making a fundraising push to close out the month in the hopes of securing about $70,000 to take advantage of a $300,000 matching grant as part of the organization’s capital campaign to pay off the mortgage and fund improvements at the Gateway Community Center in Kalispell.
The matching grant is available until March 31, meaning United Way must raise the remaining $70,000 in donations or pledges by that date in order to utilize the match. United Way is encouraging donors to double their gifts this month or pledge additional funds to meet the deadline.
Officials with Northwest Montana United Way say they are about one-third of the way to the capital campaign’s overall goal of $4.2 million, with the top priority of paying off the mortgage on the Gateway Community Center, formerly the Gateway West Mall.
But a portion of the money already raised, including through the sale of the Flathead Food Bank late last year, is required by the city to be used for parking lot improvements. Carol Nelson, the chair of the Gateway To Miracle Campaign, said $600,000 in combined match and raised funds would go a long way toward paying off the $1 million mortgage, and at the very least dramatically decrease monthly payments.
“It’s imperative that we get that mortgage paid off,” Nelson said. “This $600,000 payment will make a really big difference.”
United Way has owned the bulk of the former mall since purchasing it in 2015, after leasing it since 2009. The Flathead County Economic Development Authority owns the wing of the building occupied by TTEC, while on Dec. 30 the Flathead Food Bank finalized the purchase of its 27,000-square-foot space located on the southern end.
United Way operates its portion of the building as a nonprofit campus, and officials say the long-term sustainability of their one-stop shop for human services would be greatly buoyed by a successful capital campaign.
After paying off the mortgage, additional priorities include the completion of parking lot upgrades and other infrastructure work, such as finalizing interior build-outs in a handful of units and exterior upgrades, as well as establishing a reserve fund for future needs.
“We’d like to upgrade exterior of the building, but we can’t do that until we get our mortgage paid off,” Nelson said.
The Gateway Community Center welcomed five new tenants last year and has several new prospective tenants, Nelson said, which means the occupancy rate of completed units is nearly full.
For more information on the Gateway to Miracles Campaign, visit www.savethegateway.org.
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