The Seattle City Council on Monday approved a lease that will bring a Dale Chihuly glass-art exhibit to Seattle Center to replace the shuttered Fun Forest amusement park.
The Seattle City Council on Monday approved a lease that will bring a Dale Chihuly glass-art exhibit to Seattle Center and replace the shuttered Fun Forest amusement park.
The exhibition hall and an adjacent art garden are to open next April, when the 50th anniversary celebration of the 1962 World’s Fair kicks off.
“Seattle will have another world-class attraction and Seattle Center will be further invigorated,” said Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, chairwoman of the Parks and Seattle Center Committee, in a statement after the unanimous council vote.
Additionally, the Space Needle Corp., which is creating a subsidiary called Center Art to build and operate the glass exhibition hall, will donate $1 million to fund a children’s playground north of the Monorail station. Seattle Center will begin over the next two years to design and develop the playground, which will be free to the public.
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Dale Chihuly, the world-renowned glass artist, attended Monday’s council hearing but did not address the council.
Under the five-year agreement, the city will charge a base rent of $350,000 per year. Rent will increase to $500,000 per year if the lease is extended for an additional five years. The $350,000 figure is comparable to the Center’s lease with Experience Music Project, city officials said.
Center Art will be responsible for all costs associated with the development, construction, operation and maintenance of the glass exhibit. No city money will be used for the project.
A noncompete clause that would have barred any other glass artist from displaying work at Seattle Center was removed at the request of Councilmember Nick Licata.
The Northwest Craft Gallery west of the International Fountain, which has sold the work of local artists for 48 years, will close in December. Bagshaw said Seattle Center Director Robert Nellams will work with the Pratt Fine Arts Center and other groups to open a gallery space inside the Center House.
The Space Needle Corp. and Seattle Center announced an agreement in March 2010 for a Chihuly exhibit, but an outcry about the lack of public process led to calls for additional proposals for the site.
An advisory panel in September recommended the Chihuly exhibition space as the most likely to draw tourists and generate revenue for Seattle Center.
The deal was sweetened with the addition of the playground, as well as arts-education programs at the Chihuly museum in partnership with Seattle Public Schools and other arts organizations.
Lynn Thompson: 206-464-8305 or firstname.lastname@example.org