East Link route to demolish ballet center

The Pacific Northwest Ballet
The Pacific Northwest Ballet's Francia Russell Center in Bellevue is slated to be demolished to make way for Sound Transit's East Link light rail alignment.
— image credit: Brandon Macz

Pacific Northwest Ballet executive director D. David Brown has confirmed Bellevue's Francia Russell Center will be demolished to make way for Sound Transit's East Link route. Finding a viable option for relocation, he said, depends on an agreement for just compensation.

"We will have to relocate," said Brown. "We're investigating a number of options, one of which is essentially right next to ours. … We don't know yet how much compensation Sound Transit is willing to afford us for that relocation."

The East Link light rail alignment at 136th Place Northeast and Northeast 16th Street will run a line around that corner, slightly east of the academy. Because Sound Transit prefers a 30 mph curve — to mitigate noise and reduce maintenance needs — complete demolition of the FRC is required.

Brown said PNB agrees it is the most efficient option for Sound Transit, adding the next best decision the government authority could make is fully funding relocation of the Francia Russell Center.

PNB has been in Bellevue since 1986, opening the FRC in the fall of 2002. Brown said $3 million had to be raised to fund completion of the center, adding a contractor has estimated it would take about $5 million today to replicate its size and features in another location.

"We think that's kind of the benchmark number for us to try to hit," said Brown, adding an empty warehouse on the same lot as the FRC is the preferred property for relocation.

Brown said PNB is looking at other relocation alternatives and doesn't anticipate it will have to vacate the Francia Russell Center for at least two years based on information received from Sound Transit.

"There's time here, but time has a way of slipping away," he said.

Geoff Patrick for Sound Transit said the transit authority is still working toward an agreement to purchase the building and fund relocation of its tenant, the Francia Russell Center.

"Any tenant in a building that is being acquired by us is entitled to relocation benefits," he said. "That's part of the negotiations that are happening, right now."

Brown said PNB and Sound Transit were set to enter negotiations at the end of January, but scheduling conflicts pushed that to late February.


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