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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Omigod, Omigod, Omigod, They're Finally Building My Playground!

Posted by on Tue, Aug 6, 2013 at 3:59 PM

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.


Comments (19) RSS

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Rotten666 19
Put a fucking lid on it, please. So we can actually use it year round.
Posted by Rotten666 on August 7, 2013 at 7:47 AM · Report this
Allyn 18
I hope that it will be an artfully-designed playground and not a playground-like art installation. To be effective, it needs to be a place kids can climb and explore and spend hours playing without becoming bored.

And +1 to @11. Trees. Trees that can be climbed (without concrete below) and provide shade, too. I don't know how much it'll cost to relocate mature trees, but maybe Chihuly can cover the cost.
Posted by Allyn on August 7, 2013 at 7:42 AM · Report this
A playground with lots of hands on building activities, like, for example, trebuchet building workshops.
Posted by cracked on August 6, 2013 at 8:50 PM · Report this
Still nothing on the free admissions mandated by the contract Wright/Chihuly signed. They continue to be in breach of contract. No one's called them on it. Can we get another couple hundred K compensation added to the playground fund?
Posted by BornAgainInBellevue on August 6, 2013 at 7:50 PM · Report this
raku 15
I predict a local prominent glass designer wins the playground bid, and will design a giant glass kiddie slide with pointy glass tentacles shooting out of it, and a tasteful glass gift shop on the bottom.
Posted by raku on August 6, 2013 at 6:35 PM · Report this
NotSean 14
How about a little spot to buy a cup of coffee? That'd be nice.
Posted by NotSean on August 6, 2013 at 6:23 PM · Report this
this is good to hear. unfortunately, i suspect the $2million is about how much it will cost by the time a bunch of Seattlites actually decide on what the playground will look like. construction will require a new property tax.
Posted by semi-crepuscular on August 6, 2013 at 5:53 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 12
@8 whatever dude - you keep talking, I'll keep doing.

Your problem is you see roadblocks - I see places a well aimed tank can go thru.
Posted by Will in Seattle on August 6, 2013 at 5:13 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 11
Every playground in Seattle less than 10 years old has no fucking trees. To speak of. There is no shade. The people cry out for shade, O corporate overlords!

Plant some weird mutant or exotic shit now that grows 20 feet tall in a year so we can have a little shade. By the time the trees are tall enough our kids won't ever go to the playground except to get high.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on August 6, 2013 at 5:09 PM · Report this
i guess it's better than nothing. but the oh-so-generous Chihuly-Wright assholes can bite me with their faux-generosity. We liked Fun Forest how it was, and $800K is not that much.
Posted by Josie on August 6, 2013 at 5:05 PM · Report this
Yes, that's quite nice of the Wright Family and (I guess) Chihuly.

But maybe the Seattle School district should play this game. They own the nine (9) acres that Memorial Stadium and its parking lot sit on. (The City loves to pretend this isn't so but yes, it is and it was deeded to the district - on the condition that they use it for educational purposes - way before Seattle Center even existed.

There is some plan about exchanging land with the City, blah, blah but really, the district, if you go by what happened in Goldy's story, is in the driver's seat and should extract all they can.

The district better not mess this up (a la Queen Anne High) because then arguably the single most valuable piece of property the district owns might slip through their fingers.

That's just me.
Posted by westello on August 6, 2013 at 4:54 PM · Report this
rob! 8
Goldy and WiS should totally chest-bump over their amazing influence on public/private affairs.
Posted by rob! on August 6, 2013 at 4:53 PM · Report this
$880K only? Peanuts in the world of playgrounds. Completely unimpressed, esp. since you just know the players involved would love to have a 1/2 mile kid-free perimeter around The Chihuly Gift Shoppe n Katering Kitchen.
Posted by gator bait on August 6, 2013 at 4:48 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 6
I for one am glad a certain blond council member was looking for a reasonable compromise and listened to the people at the design workshops.
Posted by Will in Seattle on August 6, 2013 at 4:46 PM · Report this
Rip the roof off the KeyArena and fill it with sand ?
Posted by ChefJoe on August 6, 2013 at 4:41 PM · Report this
Thanks, Goldy!
Posted by gone unregistered on August 6, 2013 at 4:27 PM · Report this
I'd much rather they build a public sex and needle exchange park.
Posted by jeffy on August 6, 2013 at 4:25 PM · Report this
And how nice that the glass museum pays minimum wage on public land.
Posted by TJ on August 6, 2013 at 4:15 PM · Report this
Yessssss! Excited to have a playground near SLU.
Posted by Kiznit on August 6, 2013 at 4:06 PM · Report this

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