At long last, a community center for Belltown

Sep 14, 2012

After more than 12 years of waiting, the Seattle neighborhood of Belltown is getting a community center. The Belltown Community Center got underway in 1999, when voters approved a Parks levy to pay for it. After years of setbacks and delays, a dead-end partnership and scarce real estate, the city landed on a rental property. It’s an old auto shop on the corner of 5th Avenue and Bell Street, full of exposed beams, big windows and loft aesthetics.

Parks spokesperson Joelle Hammerstad said on Tuesday, the center will open at last.

“We looked at 27 different sites in Belltown. So it certainly hasn’t been for lack of effort. However that has been two mayors and three park superintendents ago,” Hammerstad said.

Hammerstad said the center will be a focal point for community engagement in a neighborhood with a reputation for drugs and homelessness. Belltown also known for its high-rises and single people rather than for families. But Hammerstad says that makes it even riper for a center.

“There’s a building here which is a community, a building there which is a community, and without a place to cross-pollinate with each other, Belltown can stay sort of siloed,” Hammerstad said.

The community center will offer midday fitness classes and other programming, and includes a kids’ playroom, a rentable multipurpose room and even an office for Seattle police. It will be open 25 hours a week, Tuesday-to-Saturday.