Cultural center to transform

Big changes are coming to the Asia-Pacific Cultural Center that will revitalize and transform the entire area where the center is located on South Tacoma Way.

Originally, plans were to expand the center by doubling its size with a new one-story wing built on a property to the south and adjacent to the existing building. However, upon learning that this land is home to state-protected Garry Oaks native to the Pacific Northwest, it was back to the drawing board. Now, the entire APCC campus will be renovated starting with the complete dismantling of the 10,000 square foot center and rebuilding it into a brand new two story structure that will further double its total floor space to 21,000 square feet.

While this represents a huge change from what was initially envisioned, APCC Executive Director Lua Pritchard is excited about what lies ahead to make the beloved center much more efficient, user-friendly and up to date on its most basic structural equipment.

“It’s also good because the building is 80 years old,” she said. “We have to rearrange everything or else we’ll have problems later. We already have these problems and it will just cost more if we don’t fix them now.”

Plumbing was a concern, as was having to cope with props, unsuitable appliances like stoves and sinks, and simply room to do the things the center wants to do to serve so many people. people as possible. The ultimate vision is to have a modern space where the community can come and enjoy the center in a way that does justice to APCC’s reach and its wide variety of programs and events that bring cultural gifts to all. those who visit it.

“It’s going to be wonderful. South Tacoma Way will never be the same again,” said Pritchard. “This is going to be very catalytic for the look of South Tacoma Way and will really improve the feelings of the businesses that are here now and help everyone be more positive to upgrade.

While the center will, of course, have to be closed once construction begins, the dedicated APCC staff have no intention of letting this interfere with their work. Classes, events and programs will continue with help from Metro Parks, the Tacoma School District and a host of APCC friends who have stepped forward to help with a smooth transition.

“This has always been our timeline for innovating in 2023, but there is a great possibility that we will innovate at the end of next year,” said Pritchard. “If the way things are now, it will be at the end of next year. About 14 months of construction then we open to the public.

The new two-storey building will double the size of the existing center.

Everything that was to be included in the original master plan will come to the center: an art gallergy and cultural display space; a tea room; martial arts and dance studios; performance auditorium with full commercial kitchen; small library; more classrooms; a gift shop; a Asia-Pacific garden; and a Culinary Kitchen to teach Asian American and Pacific Islander culinary skills to aspiring students, preparing them to enter the food industry workforce with assistance from Bates Technical College, Clover Park Technical College and local AAPI professionals who will teach as volunteers.

As Pritchard explained, “With the culinary program, what’s great is that we’re going to launch an entrepreneurship program to go along with it. People will learn AAPI cooking and have the opportunity to learn how. open a business such as a restaurant, catering service or food truck.

The Pierce County Library is on board to help create the centre’s Asia-Pacific library open to the public and showcasing selected materials from APCC’s resources, knowledge, experience and connections to the 47 countries represented. through the center.

There will be a charming shop selling Asia-Pacific arts and crafts, jewelry and more, as well as a small cafe open to the public daily.

Many different classroom spaces will be perfect for practicing cultural shows and ongoing martial arts lessons, and for a language institute that could take place as early as the end of next year.

“We will start with Korea, and then in March of next year we start the Taiwanese Mandarin courses virtually online. I know it will only be a matter of time before there is also a many other AAPI languages, ”said Pritchard. .

The tea room will feature tea ceremonies by different AAPI countries, as each has their own ceremony and will be well attended throughout the year. Right now, APCC offers Asian teas and cakes every first Saturday of the month and will do so almost every day from different countries. The new tearoom will for the first time be dedicated to this use only with the look and feel of an authentic tearoom and all the necessary equipment to make it possible.

The biggest blessing for APCC right now has been the influx of support helping build momentum for its fundraising campaign. Prichard expressed his deep gratitude to the City of Tacoma and Metro Parks – its executive director Shon Sylvia, the administration and the Metro Parks Commission – for all of their support. Pierce County Director Bruce Dammeier and Pierce County Council have just approved the APCC for $ 1.5 million in the county budget, and Washington State in the last legislative session approved 1 , $ 39 million in funding from the Department of Commerce. The community at large is also to be thanked. At 25 of the APCCe anniversary last month, generous donors donated $ 450,000 for the construction project. In addition,

The Group Health Foundation donated $ 200,000 for the building.


Mark your calendar now for February 19 when the Asia-Pacific Cultural Center presents its 24e Annual New Years Eve celebration at the Sharon McGavick Conference Center at Clover Park Technical College. Back in person, no admission is required to enjoy this fun family event which runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

It will feature the beautiful country of China showcasing its culture in a vibrant and colorful spectacle.

China will be followed by numerous representations of the countries and cultures represented by the APCC. The day is filled with cultural stalls, both retail and service, as well as several stalls of delicious food. Martial arts demonstrations, dancing and hands-on activities will delight the whole family with a fun day of cultural immersion.

The Tacoma Dome showroom is currently not open to the public, but the APCC New Years event will return to this location as soon as the room is open again. The event attracts up to 10,000 people each year, making it one of Tacoma’s top attractions for people everywhere.

Supplier kiosks are always available at and find out about sponsorship opportunities on

Matt Nagle story: [email protected]

James C. Tibbs