Two-and-a-half years after promising to build a million-dollar playground in exchange for replacing a beloved kiddie amusement park with a for-profit glass "museum," gift shop, and catering hall, Seattle Center director Robert Nellams announced today they will begin seeking proposals from local design teams to build the "Artists at Play" children’s play area on three remaining acres of the former Fun Forest site.
“It's taken quite a while. Why'd it take so long, Robert?” City Council member Jean Godden pressed Nellams during a council meeting this morning. Nellams argued that the plan was always to tackle the park after the Center's 50th Anniversary Celebration—a bit of revisionist history that surprised Stranger staffers, who've obsessively covered this topic for years now. The playground is now scheduled to open in the summer of 2014.
The Ye Olde Chihuly Garden and Gift Shoppe opened to meh reviews last year, and has been wowing expensively catered event goers ever since. But according to Nellams, we should apparently be damn grateful for the generosity of its corporate sponsors. “I'd like to remind everyone that this is a donation from the Wright Family, from Chihuly," Nellams offered the council, unprompted.
And I'd like to remind everyone that it was my fucking idea. In fact, shortly after I first proposed extracting a couple million dollars out of the deal to build a really kick-ass playground, a Wright/Chihuly flack angrily confronted me outside a public hearing, demanding to know why they owed the public anything? A few weeks later, $2 million to build and maintain a playground was magically added to the proposal. It was a smart PR move in the face of unexpectedly stiff opposition. But don't think for a second that this was a gift made out of the goodness of their hearts.
Whatever. At least we're getting a playground. Even if the $800,000 slated for construction is far short of kick-ass. So if you're a local artist or designer interested in submitting a proposal, go to the Seattle Center website for details, and be sure to complete your submission by September 4.