Meydenbauer Center looks at renovations, expansion

More than 7,000 events have been held at the center since construction of the Meydenbauer Center 20 years ago. - Courtesy Photo
More than 7,000 events have been held at the center since construction of the Meydenbauer Center 20 years ago.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

After 20 years of operations, the Meydenbauer Center's board of directors are working with the city of Bellevue to figure out how to make improvements that will ensure its financial viability for many years to come.

"As Bellevue's grown, so have we," said Stacy Graven, executive director for the Meydenbauer Center, "and also we have the obligation to be the communities kind of living room."

More than 7,000 events have been held at the center since its construction, and Graven said the meeting rooms, lobby and theater there have gone relatively untouched over the past 20 years.

"It's time for a remodel to keep up with the competition," she said. "… It's time for us to just go in there and renovate those rooms."

With Sound Transit planning to construct its Bellevue Transit Center Station for its East Link extension on Northeast Sixth Street and the city working to expand its City Hall Plaza, renovating the Meydenbauer Center makes sense, Graven said.

"The station being built right across the street from us is huge, and we're thrilled," she said, adding that means easier access to the center through public transportation. "We look at that as a huge plus, and the development that goes along with that."

The Meydenbauer Center estimates its hosting of events — about half being corporate functions — has generated more than $390 million in economic impact to the city of Bellevue while being self-sustained through hotel/motel taxes and operating revenue.

Graven said funding for renovations at the center and potential expansion will be a question taken up by the board in early 2014. The Meydenbauer Center has built-in, annual incremental rate increases, but they never exceed 3 percent, she said.

"Investing in the future is critical as we continue to meet our client's needs," said Rick Carlson, center board chairman, in a statement. "The board and staff are currently contemplating necessary capital reinvestments to the 20-year-old facility to bring its interiors, finishes and technology up-to-date in order to remain competitive in the marketplace."

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