Apr 30 2011
After sixteen months of negotiations, in April the City Council unanimously voted to approve a lease agreement allowing Center Art LLC to develop an exhibition hall and art garden in Seattle Center’s former South Fun Forest site. This is otherwise known as the Chihuly Exhibition. The Center Art LLC will also donate $1 million for the development of a creative children’s play area north of the Monorail station. The playground will be open and free to everyone.
Under the five year agreement, the City will receive a base rent of $350,000 per year and if the lease is extended, rent will increase to $500,000 per year. These amounts are comparable to the terms we have with the Experience Music Project.
City funding will not be used for this project and Center Art will bear all of the costs of construction and operation. It is scheduled to open in April of 2012.
As a member of the Parks and Seattle Center Committee at a time where we are trying to maximize and preserve public benefits in our city by smartly partnering with private enterprise, I believe we developed a solution that makes sense. I enjoyed working with the community leaders and Center Art to preserve the needs of our community and build a future together. Of course, this is coming from a person who grew up here enjoying the rides and games in the Fun Forest site, so it was indeed bitter/sweet. Kudos to my colleague Councilmember Sally Bagshaw and Seattle Center head Robert Nellams for their leadership on this project. This attraction should enhance our efforts to have a place that draws both Seattle residents and tourists alike.