Robert Nellams announced Thursday he retiring from his position as Seattle Center director.

"I announced today at our All-Staff Meeting that I will be retiring at the end of May this year. Mayor Durkan and I have agreed that I will serve as the bridge between now and the future of Seattle Center. That means I will be here to focus on finalizing the arena agreement and helping find the next leader of Seattle Center," Nellams said in a released statement.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan's office confirmed Nellams' retirement.

It’s a shocker at City Hall, considering Nellams has spent over 20 years at the center and has been the director since 2006. He is also well-liked by colleagues and council members.

Nellams has presided over numerous changes at the center, including the redesigning of the Armory, and the opening of KEXP, Chihuly Garden, and Seattle Opera expansion.

He was also instrumental in the recent discussions over the redevelopment of the KeyArena site and was viewed as integral in carrying out the vision of the project. Nellams also has been in deep talks with the Seattle School District about potential redevelopment of the Memorial Stadium site and placement of a new high school.

No reason was given, although Nellams told KING 5 that he’s proud of his accomplishments.

Mayor Durkan now has to add the vacancy to a list that includes SDOT, SPD, and the Parks Department directors, among others.

Full statement by Robert Nellams:

City Colleagues:

I announced today at our All-Staff Meeting that I will be retiring at the end of May this year. Mayor Durkan and I have agreed that I will serve as the bridge between now and the future of Seattle Center. That means I will be here to focus on finalizing the arena agreement and helping find the next leader of Seattle Center.

I want you to know that it has been an honor and privilege to serve in leadership positions at Seattle Center for more than 20 years. My goal has always been to support our incredible staff to the best of my abilities for the benefit of our patrons and this amazing and enduring place. Together, we have delivered great value to the community and have much to be proud of. My hope and my expectation are that you all will continue to build upon that success.

In the meantime, I remain the Seattle Center director through May, working alongside you to navigate the exciting changes ahead. Mayor Durkan will be setting plans in place for securing the next director over the next few months.

I am proud of the place Seattle Center is in today and I am excited to watch as the future begins to take shape in keeping with our purpose: to create exceptional events, experiences and environments that delight and inspire the spirit to build stronger communities.

Peace

Robert Nellams