Community members packed Fun Forest replacement meeting at Seattle Center last night

Posted on March 31st, 2010 by Sara Willy

Around 400 people attended the public meeting at Seattle Center last night to discuss what will become of the 5 acres of open space that used to be home to the Fun Forest, according to our news partners the Seattle Times.

(Image by Studio 216 for Owen Richards Architects, courtesy of both).

One proposal outlines plans for a 44,000-square-foot “glass house” that would include an outdoor public garden, plaza, bookstore with cafe and retail space, and a 3,800-square-foot space for permanent a Dale Chihuly exhibit. The project, expected to cost an estimated $15 million, would be financed by the Wright family, the original builders and owners of the Space Needle. Many estimate the paid-admission venue would bring in hefty revenue for the Center, which funds 67 percent of its budget on its own.

The Times reported that there were voices of both support and opposition represented at the meeting last night. From the Times:

“It’s a smart addition to the Center and an amazing opportunity for Seattle,” said Deborah Person, managing director for the Seattle International Film Festival, which uses Seattle Center as a venue.

Ron Sevart, CEO of the Space Needle, talked about how the project would bring scores of family-wage construction jobs.

Many who oppose the project argue that the city should take advantage of 5 acres of open space in the middle of town, while others say alternative options should be considered before a decision is made. From the Times:

Iain Robertson, a landscape architect, called himself a “grass-roots supporter of grass.” He said Seattle Center is not the right location for a glass exhibit and that the city would be foolish to give up nearly 2 acres of open space.

“For us as a city to replace that [open space] in the future would cost an enormous amount of money,” he said. “You just don’t get a chance at this much open space in the center of the city.”

In response to the outcry of opinions around the proposal, the Seattle Center announced last week that it would be accepting public bids to compete with the “glass house” project. Read the Seattle Times’ coverage of last night’s meeting here.