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Changes at Belltown Community Center

Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) is preparing to close the Belltown Community Center at the end of 2018.

The Center is leased, not owned by SPR, and the lease agreement for this building is expiring at the end of the year. The high cost of both real estate and rent have prevented SPR, in the past and present, from securing a permanent recreation facility in the Belltown neighborhood.

SPR will seek to meet recreation needs by increasing program offerings at Belltown parks. Center City recreation programs have been wildly successful in the ID, Pioneer Square, Downtown, South Lake Union, and Belltown. We are excited to continue our partnership with the Belltown Parks and Arts Committee and the Metropolitan Improvement District to bring free activities and a welcoming atmosphere primarily to Bell Street Park, but also to Tilikum Place and Belltown Cottage Park.

Summer plans include an ambassador to staff Bell Street with games and a book cart 3 to 4 days a week; Belltown Beats (live music), Artist Workshops and Community Art Table Friday evenings June – August; 2 to 3 Dog/Pet Events, including Dog-O-Ween; Chalk Art & Music Festival August 11 and 12; Pickleball Sundays (TBD), and lots more.

Belltown’s community center has been heavily used as a meeting and community gathering location. SPR’s Dexter Administration building boardroom will be made available to the community to reserve for meetings and gatherings. This building is located at 100 Dexter, and is less than a 10-minute walk from Belltown Community Center.

We have not given up on trying to find a community center location that could serve both Belltown and South Lake Union. Locating a community center at SPR’s Dexter Administration building is a possibility that the department will explore.

The center will remain open until December 2018, and we will be holding a community meeting to further discuss how to best meet recreation needs in this community.

We invite you to hear more about these changes on May 16, from 6 p.m. to 7:30pm at Belltown Community Center.

Background on Belltown Community Center

  • The 1999 Community Centers and Seattle Center Levy funded the creation of Belltown Community Center, providing $1.89 million for a new community center in Belltown. Due to high property values, no acceptable site was found and the project budget would only cover the cost of leasing space. The City leased the space at 5th and Bell, and the facility was opened in September of 2012.
  • SPR used the Levy funds to cover renovations to the facility.
  • Rent on use of this building is currently $126,360 per year.
  • SPR’s non-profit partner, the Associated Recreation Council (ARC) has been paying $100,000 annually to help cover Belltown Community Center’s operating expenses in return for receiving the revenue the center generates. This revenue nowhere near covers the cost to operate.
  • The current 7-year lease term expires on December 31, 2018.
  • In comparison to other comparable facilities, Belltown Community Center has continued to be one of the least visited of all 27 community centers.
  • ARC cannot continue their financial support of Belltown Community Center after 2018.
  • The City has determined that renewing the lease after 2018 would not be an effective use of SPR funds.