Arts and Entertainment

Bellevue to break ground on youth theater this spring

The new Bellevue Youth Theatre will be built into a hill at Bellevue
The new Bellevue Youth Theatre will be built into a hill at Bellevue's Crossroads Park.
— image credit: Courtesy photo, city of Bellevue


Designed by Becker Architects of Bellevue, the new theater will be built into a hillside in Crossroads Park near the Crossroads Community Center, which served as the home to the drama program before it relocated to the former Ivanhoe Elementary School in 2001.

Since being founded in 1990, the BYT has become one of the most popular youth programs in Bellevue. The program produces 10 shows a year and casts have grown 25 to approximately 50 actors per show.

"First and foremost, it's a parks building, not just a theater," said James McClain, administrator for the Bellevue Youth Theatre, about the new building.

The innovative new space will include a 150-seat black-box theater, featuring flexible seating options. The space also will feature a stage that can open to the outdoors.

Speaking to the many different options BYT explored throughout the last few years, McClain said the Becker designed proved the most fitting because of it's consciousness toward the environment.

"With this plan, we don't have to cut down any trees," McClain said.

In addition to the $1 million being raised by the BYT Foundation, voters approved $2 million for the project as part of the 2008 Parks & Natural Areas Levy. The remainder of the $8.5 million project cost is being funded by a King County Green Building Grant, 4Culture and a previously allotted portion of Bellevue's 2013-2019 capital budget.

McClain said a number of improvements are planned in the new building, among them, proper dressing rooms. The players currently use a variety of portables spread across the campus because the rooms at Ivanhoe are not big enough.

The new building also is designed to meet LEED certification standards for sustainability. As such, it will accomplish green building objectives associated with energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality, water conservation and management, building materials and waste reduction and sustainable site planning.

Robin Haaseth, public information officer for parks and community services, said with the exception of a three- or four-week period, the Crossroads Community Center will remain open throughout construction. However, parking will be impacted. Haaseth said primary community center parking will be relocated approximately two blocks north to 15801 NE 15th St. at the Crossroads Par 3 Golf Course Lot. ADA accessible parking and limited drop-off will remain accessible at the main community center entrance. The Crossroads Par 3 Golf Course will remain open.

Construction is expected to last 18 months, with the new theater opening in fall 2014.

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