Ballet Bellevue struggles to find new home

Ballet Bellevue, a non-profit dance company, operated out of a rented studio next to the city's Downtown Park for years.
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BELLEVUE, Wash. -- Everyone knew it was not a permanent situation. Ballet Bellevue, a non-profit dance company, operated out of a rented studio next to the city's Downtown Park for years, with the understanding when the parks department decided to finish the green space, their home would be demolished for parking.

But in the month since Bellevue confirmed construction on the park would begin this summer, and Ballet Bellevue moved out, efforts to find the organization a permanent home have hit a snag.

"We're homeless, or at least we're going to be," said Ballet Bellevue Executive Director Mary Ellen Hundley, "We have to find a place to go and it's hard to find a place to move immediately."

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Hundley's group operates out of a vacant warehouse just north of downtown Bellevue, while also holding classes at the Northwest Arts Center.

Initially, Ballet Bellevue was told it could stay in the empty building until August while looking for a new studio. However, the space's slated development was moved up, and now Hundley says she has to be out by June 8th.

"We have to get out, like now," she commented, "We don't have too much time."

Though Hundley makes it clear she has no frustration with the city of Bellevue, she points out her group has a letter from 1997 in which the city indicates it looks forward to "working with you to find your group a long-term home in the city."

By 2015, Hundley says that mentality has changed.

"In terms of finding a new home for this studio that we had to vacate," she said, "I would say that nothing was really done."

Bellevue's Parks and Recreation department said Friday it has "no obligation" to find Ballet Bellevue a new home. City documents from March indicate "this is strictly a landlord/tenant agreement", adding it would pass along potential sites to the non-profit. City leaders have said efforts have been made to help Ballet Bellevue find space, if not a new home.

As for Hundley, she said she is more focused on finding that new studio, rather than spreading frustration.

"I haven't blamed the city," said Hundley, "If someone else does, I certainly haven't heard about it and won't support it."