Mayor McGinn announces future uses for Seattle Center
- space for radio station KEXP,
- A Dale Chihuly exhibition,
- a new children’s playground,
- commitment to create a north Fun Forest site green open space, and
- steps to move the new Memorial Stadium project forward.
The Mayor today proposed that KEXP make its new home in the Center’s Northwest Rooms, at First Avenue and Republican Street; the Chihuly Exhibition occupy the Fun Forest site, next to the Space Needle; and the new public playground be developed south of Memorial Stadium. The Chihuly Exhibition, produced jointly by the Space Needle Corporation and Chihuly Studio, will also provide $2 million in funding to seed creation of this family-focused play area on campus.
“We’ve listened, and we’ve worked hard to bring forward a set of proposals to make Seattle Center more vibrant, more kid-friendly, and more financially stable,” said Mayor Mike McGinn. “I’m impressed by the commitment to community of everyone involved.”
The announcement marked the culmination of a months-long process of considering proposals for new development on the campus.
“This solution offers much more than we expected to achieve when we began this process,” said Bill Block, Seattle Center Advisory Commission chair and member of the Century 21 Committee appointed to consider changes to Center campus. “Throughout the process of considering proposals, we have been inspired by the outpouring of interest from the public. It is clear that our community values Seattle Center and cares deeply about its future.”
“The story worth telling is how the selection process opened up,” said Councilmember Sally Bagshaw. “As a result, it is a creative recommendation that integrates open space for kids, cultural attractions with art and music, and increased public opportunity. This public-private partnership is a success for our city and it’s one that will help define the future of Seattle Center.”
KEXP and the Chihuly Exhibition will support the long-term vision of the Seattle Center. KEXP’s vision for the Northwest Rooms would transform the building with glass walls that give people a clear view of DJs and artists. A gallery would invite people in to watch in-studio performances and an adjacent outdoor stage would present hundreds of free performances every year. The newly imagined space would also connect to Lower Queen Anne, stimulating economic development in the neighborhood. New and expanded partnerships are already in motion between KEXP and Seattle Public Schools, Seattle Public Library, EMP, Seattle Channel and the University of Washington.
The Chihuly Exhibition, which involves no public funds for construction or operation, will generate $10 million over the life of the lease, not including taxes to the City. The lease is for up to 20 years. It will create 225 new jobs, and involve partnerships with Pratt Fine Arts Center, Pilchuck School, ArtsFund and Seattle Public Schools.
The announcement today has several commitments to support open space at the Seattle Center. They include:
- $1 million from the Wright family for a new public playground,
- $1 million, also from the Wright family, over 20 years to support the playground,
- A new task force to guide development of the north Fun Forest and Memorial Stadium. The task force will include the Seattle Center Foundation, 4Culture and a capital campaign led by Jeff Wright,
- An open, competitive process to design and develop the north Fun Forest as open space along the lines of the vision put forward by Open Platform,
- Moving forward on the vision for the new Memorial Stadium, including removal of the southern wall, and
- an overall $10 million capital campaign commitment to improve open spaces in the Fun Forest area and where it integrates with Memorial Stadium.
Mayor McGinn’s proposal now goes to City Council for final approval.