Metro Parks Tacoma has approved an agreement with the Korean Women’s Association to lease and upgrade the Portland Avenue Community Center, the Metro Parks Board of Commissioners announced last week.

The board voted 4-0 to authorize the lease with KWA, which in addition to agreeing to operate the 9,500-square-foot facility also committed to investing up to $1 million in building improvements.

Portland Avenue, Metro Parks

Courtesy Metro Parks Tacoma.

“This agreement represents another major investment on Tacoma’s Eastside,” said Park Board President Andrea Smith. “We just opened Eastside Community Center, and now this agreement with KWA will offer expanded services in a renovated building. KWA has served the community for a long time, and I am excited that Metro Parks can offer an agreement for use of this space.”

The lease will be finalized soon, according to Metro Parks, and KWA will move into the space and begin offering services “as soon as possible.”

According to Troy Christensen, executive director of KWA, those services will include an expanded senior meal program; assistance with access to medical, food, and housing benefits; senior wellness activities; job fairs; in-home care assistance for seniors and people with disabilities; meeting space for local clubs; multigenerational and multiethnic programming; and more.

“The KWA Board of Trustees views the addition of Portland Avenue Community Center as an opportunity to create a long-term and lasting investment into the Eastside of Tacoma, which KWA has called home for the majority of our 46-plus years,” Christensen said.

KWA is a nonprofit social services organization that operates in 11 counties throughout Western Washington. The agency offers senior wellness and meal programs, runs a domestic violence shelter, and operates the Lighthouse and Beacon Senior Centers in Tacoma in collaboration with the city.

The Portland Avenue Community Center lease reflects the comments and concerns voiced at two neighborhood meetings held near the center, according to Metro Parks. For example, the lease does not allow the property to be used for housing and prevents the building from being expanded upon. The lease is for a 50-year term, with annual reviews plus a termination clause that lets either party end the agreement with a year’s notice.

“The community wanted Metro Parks to preserve green space, and so they did. The community has a list of needs, and KWA is ready to address them,” said Tacoma City Councilmember Catherine Ushka, a resident of the Eastside who served on the project review panel. “It’s important for everyone to know that this agreement makes listening to the community part of the contract.”