Also, work on a downtown performing arts center
The City Council on Monday approved a long-term lease of a building at Bellefield Office Park to house Bellevue District Court, which currently is located a few blocks away at Surrey Downs Park.
Councilmembers voted unanimously to authorize an 11-year lease with the landlord, Talon Portfolio Services LLC, and pay up to $6.74 million in rent. The agreement also includes three options to renew for an additional five years each. Also relocating from the Surrey Downs Park building will be the city's Probation Services operation.
The city has planned for several years to move District Court and Probation Services from the current building, which is in poor condition, clearing the way for its eventual demolition and the redevelopment of Surrey Downs Park.
Relocating also will facilitate construction of the East Link light rail tracks, which eventually will run along the west side of 112th Avenue Southeast, cutting off access to the park and court building. The court and Probation Services are expected to begin operations at the remodeled office building in spring 2015.
District Court handles a variety of cases in which charges were made by the City of Bellevue, including traffic infractions, misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors. Only 11 percent of the visits to the court are by misdemeanor defendants. Other court services include marriage licenses, passports and name changes.
King County operates the District Court under an interlocal agreement with the city. Since the mid-1980s the court has operated out of a city-owned building at Surrey Downs Park, 585 112th Ave. SE, that formerly housed Surrey Downs Elementary School. The new location at Bellefield Office Park, 1309 114th Ave SE, is less than a mile south of Surrey Downs Park.
Before deciding on the Bellefield building, the city worked with commercial real estate consultants to carefully examine other options. They included constructing a new building, buying an existing building and other leased space. The 29,486-square-foot, stand-alone building at Bellefield Office Park was chosen because it's the right size and configuration, offers adequate parking, is located near transit services and is close to the existing court building and to City Hall.
In addition to the lease, Bellevue previously set aside $4.45 million from its capital budget for building improvements that will be completed before the district court and Probation Services relocate. Upgrades will accommodate the building's new function as a courthouse and allow it to serve a broader public audience.
The city's exact share of tenant improvements won't be known until design work is done and construction bids are received. The landlord will pay for a significant portion of the work.
More information about the court relocation is available in the council agenda materials.
Efforts to secure a performing arts center downtown
In another unanimous decision Monday, the council passed a resolution to advance public and private efforts that support the Tateuchi Center, a proposed performing arts venue in downtown Bellevue.
The resolution sets forth a process between the City of Bellevue and Performing Arts Center Eastside to help re-energize a 12-year-long fund-raising campaign that bogged down during the Great Recession. PACE, a nonprofit organization, was established in 2002 to build a first-class performing arts center in Bellevue to serve the Eastside.
The process approved Monday by the council calls for the city to, among other actions: explore possible public and private funding options; involve other Eastside cities, King County and the state; initiate a process to build public awareness of the project; and clarify public benefits.
Although PACE has secured $63 million in pledges over the years, including $2 million the City of Bellevue already contributed, the fund-raising effort is well short of its goal of $160 million. Monday’s action does not dedicate additional city dollars to the project, but it does commit city staff to help come up with a set of financing options. A timetable calls for city staff to present those options to the council by the end of 2014.
The resolution calls the proposed Tateuchi Center a "possibly transformational addition to the region’s arts and cultural landscape." Councilmembers made it clear Monday they endorse a downtown performing arts center. But to make it happen they want broad public involvement and regional support.
As designed, the Tateuchi Center is a state-of-the-art, 2,000-seat concert hall and 250-seat cabaret. It's named for the Tateuchi family, who have pledged $25 million toward the project. So far, a site has been selected, at 106th Avenue Northeast and Northeast 10th Street, designs have been completed and permits approved.
The city's interest in a performing arts center stretches back more than 40 years, to 1973, when the city first established its Arts Commission. One purpose of the commission was to formulate a long-range plan to develop and operate a cultural center. Over the decades various committees and consultants produced a series of studies, reports and recommendations in an effort to develop a major performing arts center in downtown Bellevue.
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