Yelm Readies for Initial Design Work to Complete ‘Civic Center’

Planned Education and Innovation Center Will Add Another Facet to Yelm’s City Campus

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The city of Yelm is moving forward with the planning stages for its upcoming Education and Innovation Center, which it hopes to build on its city campus.

The center would create a “civic center” of sorts in downtown, with city hall, the community college and the library on the same campus as the public safety building. The land was acquired with the purchase of the current city hall building in 2019.

The city has already met with stakeholders like South Puget Sound Community College and Timberland Regional Library in an attempt to determine their interest in the center.

A public meeting detailing initial plans for the center is likely to take place in August.

Grant Beck, with Yelm city planning, said the conversations with stakeholders and those located in the downtown corridor aim to find out what the community would like to see at the center. Beck said the community college, along with Yelm Community Schools, has been working with the city for years to try to find a space for classes in downtown Yelm.

“The other thing we would like to see back downtown is the library,” he said. “That’s part of the downtown corridor strategy as well.”

With the meetings with stakeholders in the books, the city plans to move forward with the next phase of the project, which was funded with a $200,000 grant from the state Legislature two years ago.

“We got enough feedback from the primary stakeholders to start putting pens to paper … for the design team to start their space planning and some of the early conceptual drawings,” Beck said.

The building would feature a flexible, reconfigurable space for stakeholders, but also for community groups. It may even include a community theater, Beck said. Another idea is to bring the history museum to the center.

Beck said the project is not yet funded for construction. The city will work to better understand what the space will entail and then conceptual building designs will be created for the community to look at.

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