Council approves exploring Tateuchi Center partnership

The potential for a grossly underfunded performing arts center to ever break ground in Bellevue through a public-private partnership will be assessed through a memorandum of understanding between the city and Performing Arts Center Eastside, which commits the city to $63,200 in general fund spending to explore options through outside consultants.

The Tateuchi Center is a $160-million, 175,000-square-foot performing arts center proposed to be constructed at the corner of Northeast 10th Street and 106th Avenue Northeast. Funding remains stuck at about $65 million, with the largest contribution — $25 million — coming from the Atsuhiko and Ina Goodwin Tateuchi Foundation, for which the center is now named.

PACE had intended for the Tateuchi Center to take off as a private project, constructing on land donated by Kemper Freeman Jr., but its board members blame the recession in 2008 for the long-term decline in funding momentum over the past five years. The plan for the performing arts center has been in motion since 2002, but talks of such a destination spot in Bellevue has been ongoing since the 1980s.

City staff provided Bellevue councilmembers with an outline for exploring a partnership with PACE that could allow it to boost funding through grant requests and other sources in February, which came back to the City Council on Monday in the form of a memorandum of understanding already signed by the PACE board.

City Council approved the MOU, which 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.

A legal study of issues surrounding a potential agreement with PACE could be concluded by September, when staff hopes to bring a range of options to council to narrow the scope.

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