A consultant hired by the Seattle Parks and Recreation to explore the future of the Volunteer Park Conservatory has recommended the department partner with a non-profit organization to operate the greenhouse in the future.
It was one of several recommendations by EMD Consulting Group, which was asked to determine if there are realistic ways to reduce the cost of the Conservatory and raise revenue.
The Victorian-style greenhouse, with about 6,800 square feet of display space in Volunteer Park, costs about $450,000 a year to operate but brings in only about $25,000 in revenue. It also needs about $3.5 million in repairs.
EMD, which studied conservatories in other cities, found that most similar in size to Volunteer Park are supported by city revenues. It also found that staffing at the Seattle facility is in line with national standards and that Volunteer Park Conservatory’s capacity to become financially self-sustaining is limited by its size and the lack of rental space.
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In making its recommendations, EMD focused on two of eight options — one that includes a $3 admission fee and no new structure for rental events and a second that includes a $4 admission fee, and construction of a tent for rental.
The consultant found that the majority of people who attended a public meeting in March supported a modest admission fee and rentals for weddings and other private events.