City to explore performing arts center partnership

This artist rendering shows what the Tateuchi Center is planned to look like in downtown Bellevue. - Courtesy Photo
This artist rendering shows what the Tateuchi Center is planned to look like in downtown Bellevue.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

The Bellevue City Council on Monday approved a road map for potentially reaching a public-private partnership to construct the long-anticipated and underfunded Tateuchi Center to provide a venue for performing arts downtown.

The 175,000-square-foot performing arts center, proposed to be constructed at the corner of Northeast 10th Street and 106th Avenue Northeast, is funded at $65 million to date, far shy of its $160 million goal. The largest contribution came from the Atsuhiko and Ina Goodwin Tateuchi Foundation, for which the center is now named.

The Performing Arts Center Eastside board is now requesting the city enter a partnership with the organization to allow it to access public funding, however, councilmembers have only approved a process for determining whether such a joint venture is feasible.

"There are some issues, some strings attached that come up with public funding," said Chris Salomone, director of planning and community development, in his presentation to council Monday.

City Council approved moving forward under an outline that includes assessing the public and economic benefit of a performing arts center, city funding options, legal requirements of entering such a partnership, renewing public and private fundraising efforts, an extensive public feedback process and exploring a consortium of Eastside cities. Salomone said a legal study of issues surrounding a potential agreement with PACE could be concluded by July. Final results from the exploratory process and a preferred financial option could be provided by the end of 2014, he said.

Councilmember John Stokes said it's been 41 years since the idea of a performing arts center in Bellevue first arose, and PACE has come closer the closest to accomplishing that goal. Stokes said it is important the performing arts center be a benefit to all city residents and that strong public involvement is emphasized throughout the exploratory process.

Councilmember Jennifer Robertson said she was eased by King County Councilmember Jane Hague's announcement Monday that the county will support the city's efforts, but needs to know an Eastside performing arts center will involve regional support, "not in  terms of cheerleading, but numbers, and how does this whole thing work."

Deputy Mayor Kevin Wallace said a contribution by the city of Bellevue of public funds for a performing arts center should be decided by its residents, calling for such a measure to be ready for placement on November election ballots to avoid the cost of a special election later.


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