It’s been a longstanding dream of many Eastsiders to build a performing arts center in the heart of Bellevue. That dream is becoming a reality. On Wednesday night, representatives of Performing Arts Center Eastside (PACE), the nonprofit parent company of Tateuchi Center, announced that construction would begin in Spring 2018 and that the center is expected to open in fall of 2020.
They also revealed that the main theater will be named Arakawa Concert Hall after Minoru and Yoko Arakawa’s family gift. Minoru Arakawa is the founder and former president of Nintendo of America, based in Redmond.
The Tateuchi Center will include two theaters. One will be a 2,000-seat concert hall that will host performances by local organizations like the Pacific Northwest Ballet and Seattle Symphony. The other will be a more intimate 225-seat theater. At night it will be venue for jazz, blues, singers, and local performers. But in the day, with the push of the button, the chairs will swing back and the room will transform into an arts education center.
“(It will be) a first-class, completely flexible arts education studio. A place where kids and families can practice and perform, a spread of floor for dancers, a special event space,” said PACE Executive Director John Haynes.
Since 2002, PACE has been gathering donations to build the Tateuchi Center. As of September, the organization has $73 million left to raise to complete the $195 million Capital and Endowment Campaign. Many donors and local officials believe the center will become a vital piece of the Eastside.
“I know what communities need and I work hard to bring those things here, and a performing arts center is one of them,” said Kemper Freeman Jr., who gifted the land at Northeast 10th Street and 106th Avenue Northeast, where the center will sit.
Other noteworthy gifts included $10 million from the Arakawa Foundation, $5 million from Microsoft Corporation, and $5 million from Freeman and his family.
Freeman and other supporters of Tateuchi Center were happy to praise Minoru and Yoko Arakawa and their family.
“I always like to say, everywhere I go, all around the world, if Nintendo had never come to Seattle we wouldn’t have Major League Baseball in Seattle. You just never know what dividends you’ll create when you bring people to a great place to live and work,” said Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith.
If the Tateuchi Center proves to be successful, he may have a role in bringing much more to the area.