Metro Parks STAR Center takes shape

Metro Parks Tacoma officials recently shared construction photographs of the "STAR Center," South Tacoma's newest community center. STAR is an...

Metro Parks Tacoma officials recently shared construction photographs of the “STAR Center,” South Tacoma’s newest community center. STAR is an acronym for South Tacoma Activity and Recreation Center. When the $16 million, 32,000 square foot center opens in spring 2012, it will be located at South 66th Street and South Adams Street on a shared campus with Gray Middle School, the new Boys & Girls Club’s Topping Hope Center, and South End Recreation and Adventure (SERA) Campus field. Funding for the new center was included as part of the Park Improvement Bond and adopted by voters in 2005, along with $2.2 million provided through State funding.

The STAR Center’s large concert hall will feature oversized, southeast facing windows and boast views of carefully landscaped gardens and ponds towards Mount Rainier. The hall can be divided to different sizes for a variety of uses. Other programming features include indoor and outdoor play areas, dance studio, community teaching/catering kitchen, multi-purpose room, childwatch/rentable party room, fitness room, and administration and support spaces. All activity spaces are organized along a large lobby, which is designed to serve as a community living room with local art display spaces.

From ramped entries to 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 that for more than a half-century has served Tacoma and Pierce County residents who have cognitive or intellectual challenges. The center will also be a pivotal resource for Metro Parks Tacoma’s new Adaptive Recreation program. In 2009, Metro Parks was designated as an official Paralympic Sport Club. Since that time, the Adaptive Recreation program has continued expanding, offering greater competitive recreation opportunities for the many service men and women and vets with injuries living in the community. The proximity of the center to Joint Base Lewis-McChord and breadth of programming possibilities the site will offer aims to make the center an ideal resource to serve those who have served our country.

All recreation programs currently offered at South Park will relocate to the STAR center. This will provide space for activities such as guitar lessons, which are currently taught in the kitchen at South Park, to be offered in a newly developed music studio at the new center. Spaces for the STAR Center were designed to accommodate these recreation programs and activities.

South Park Community Center will remain open but will be re-purposed. In Spring 2012, the Asia Pacific Cultural Center will sub-lease South Park to provide exciting new programming. On Fri., Oct. 7, at 3 p.m., Lua Pritchard and members of the Asia Pacific Cultural Center board and staff will hold a public meeting at South Park Community Center to discuss their plans.

For more information, visit starcentertacoma.com.

TOP LEFT: An aerial view of the STAR Center construction site on March 6, 2011; TOP RIGHT: An aerial view on Aug. 30, 2011. ABOVE: Design schematic for the STAR Center. (PHOTOS / IMAGES COURTESY METRO PARKS TACOMA)
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