Groundbreaking Thursday for $16M South Tacoma Community Center

Metro Parks Commissioners will break ground for the new South Tacoma Community Center on Thurs., Sept. 23 at 4 p.m.

Scheduled to open in spring 2012, the $16 million, 32,000 square foot center will be located at 66th and Adams on a shared campus with Gray Middle School, the new Boys & Girls Club’s Topping Hope Center and SERA field.

Construction of the center fulfills the realization of a vision that began in 2004 when community groups and civic leaders joined forces to actively campaign for Kroc Center grant funding. Although the Kroc grant was ultimately awarded to Couer d’Alene, Idaho, the community was determined to build a new center in South Tacoma. Funding for the new center was included as part of the Park Improvement Bond adopted by voters in 2005, with additional funding of $2.2 million provided by the State.

Metro Parks planning staff and design architects Miller-Hull conducted extensive community outreach in development of the center’s design. The resulting plan emphasizes environmental stewardship that is complementary to the form and function of the building.

The structure’s LEED Silver sustainable strategies include natural storm drainage, ground source heat pumps, natural ventilation and natural daylighting, as well as recycled, rapidly renewable, and low-emitting materials. Large detention ponds to the south of the building will provide natural storm drainage and include an interpretive nature path around the building and site.

The large concert hall will boast dramatic views of Mount Rainier and can be divided to different sizes for a variety of uses. Other programming features include indoor and outdoor play areas, a dance studio, a community teaching/catering kitchen, multi-purpose room, a fitness room and childwatch/rentable party room. All activity spaces are organized along a large lobby, designed to serve as a community living room with local art displays.

Metro Parks’ staff and Miller-Hull’s architectural team placed great emphasis on a universal design approach to make the center welcoming and inviting for all users. From ramped entries that access the performance stage, to strategic equipment placement for ease in navigation for visitors in wheelchairs, the center will provide a universally user-friendly experience throughout. This is an important aspect of the center which will be the new home for Metro Parks’ Specialized Recreation program. For more than a half-century this Metro Parks program has been the primary source of recreation activities for Tacoma and Pierce County residents who have cognitive or intellectual challenges.

The center will also be a pivotal resource for Metro Parks’ new Adaptive Recreation program. In 2009, Metro Parks was designated as a official Paralympic Sport Club. Since that time, the Adaptive Recreation program has continued to expand, offering greater competitive recreation opportunities for community members with physical injuries, including many service men and women and vets living in the area.