Ike Box directors Mark and Tiffany Bulgin, seated left and center, and YMCA CEO Sam Carroll, explain their plan to move the historic building and coffee shop at a forum on May 14, 2019 (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)
How do you move a 100-year-old building across the street?
IKE Box directors Mark and Tiffany Bulgin intend to tap into something they think has made their coffee shop a success: community.
“If this is such a community icon, it really is and it’s become such a community center…I would love for it to be thousands of people that help move it,” Tiffany Bulgin said at a Tuesday night gathering to kick off a $1.5 million fundraising campaign.
It’s an off-the-wall plan to preserve a historic building and keep alive their 15-year-old business that provides revenue and operations space for Isaac’s Room, a nonprofit helping young people build job skills.
The building faces demolition in August as the Salem YMCA revamps its fitness center. Ike Box sits on YMCA-owned land destined to become a new affordable housing complex in the future.
But YMCA leaders agreed to donate the building to Isaac’s Room if the Bulgins and their supporters can find a way to move it.
More than 100 Salem residents skipped a pivotal Blazers game Tuesday night to learn more about how they could help the coffee shop and community gathering space make its way down Cottage Street to a new home on First Presbyterian Church property at the corner of Cottage and Court streets.
The YMCA is in the midst of its own capital campaign to build its new fitness center and is seeking about $7 million. CEO Sam Carroll, who spoke at the event, said the side-by-side campaigns don’t worry him.
“There’s capacity in our community to make all these things happen,” Carroll said.
It’s not a traditional fundraising campaign, the Bulgins acknowledged. Typically, an organization seeking significant funds approaches large donors to get commitments before publicly announcing a campaign.
“We don’t have time for that. We’re doing all of those phases at the same time,” Mark Bulgin said.
(Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)
The building’s basement, which still has furnaces from its days as a funeral home, will not be making the journey. But 10,000 square feet of the century-old structure will, including the Rose Chapel, the high-ceilinged room adorned with paintings of angels and doves where Salem residents once gathered to mourn loved ones.
In addition to Isaac’s Room programs, Ike Box has been home to Bridgeway’s teen therapy program, serving about 300 people since mid-2016, and summer community service programs for young people. Those programs would move with the building.
Isaac’s Room leaders are negotiating a long-term lease with Salem First Presbyterian leaders, said Jan Carlson, who sits on the church’s administrative committee. The parties have signed a letter of intent.
At the Tuesday event, the Bulgins outlined their plan for raising the funds, which would cover moving the building and modernizing its water and HVAC systems.
They’re hoping to raise $650,000 in large gifts and secured a $75,000 pledge this week, they said.
But they hope the remainder will come from community members through their crowdfunding effort, and have added rewards to inspire contributions.
The coffee shop serves about 450 customers daily and brings in about $55,000 in revenue per month, Mark Bulgin said. Its profits are the largest source of funding for Isaac’s Room programs.
If 3,000 people signed up to give $25 a month for one year, that would cover the amount they’re hoping to raise.
“This is the first time that we are really going to the community as a broad base and asking a lot of people to get involved,” Tiffany Bulgin said.
“Movers” who contribute or raise at least $1,000 will get tickets to the moving party, which will feature bleachers and a barbecue, Mark Bulgin said. “Shakers” who give, raise or pledge at least $6,000 get to put a promotional banner on the side of Ike Box as it moves.
T-shirts and stickers to “Move the Ike On” are also being sold at the shop.
IKE Box will be closed from August until October or November for the move and to get the building settled in its new home. In the interim, they’re worked with Sisters Coffee, their bean supplier, to open a cart to serve people who need their caffeine fix.
Reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.
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