Yesterday, Crosscut made an argument for a Chihuly museum at the Seattle Center, based upon figures showing that Seattle Center tenants collectively owe the center, which is operated by the city, more than $1.1 million in late rent payments. The debt is largely due to just three of the campus's nonprofit organizations—Intiman Theatre, Seattle Children's Theatre, and the Children's Museum—who collectively owe the center $793,519 in overdue payments, according to a public records request filed by The Stranger on outstanding debts owed to the Seattle Center annually since 2006.

Via Crosscut:

All of these problems help explain why the Center was quick to warm to the idea of a Chihuly glass museum in place of the kiddie rides have entertained families for decades. The museum's proposal offered $350,000 a year in rent, jumping to $500,000 after five years.

The Crosscut article suggests two things: that this million-dollar debt is a new problem for the center and that a Chihuly museum will somehow mitigate the debts these nonprofits owe. But neither is the case.

More after the jump.

The Chihuly museum wouldn't pay off debts for these other renters, says Seattle Center spokeswoman DD, because they're separate accounts. And the Chihuly museum's rent wouldn't subsidize future rents to avoid bills cropping up in the future.

Indeed, a museum could generate more money for the Seattle Center, but these debts are a different issue completely. And it's important to note that these debts aren't new. They crop up each year, the tenants continually catching up, so while tenants are behind, there's still cash flow coming form them to Seattle Center. And the debts aren't growing—on the whole, they're shrinking.

The records request shows that tenants owe less money to Seattle Center this year than last year, when those three tenants had outstanding debts of $924,974 (as of December 31 2009), or four years ago, when they owed $1,663,996 (as of December 31, 2006).

There is a case to be made for a Chihuly museum at the Seattle Center, or studios for KEXP, or any other tenant that would pay its rent on time. In fact, if both a Chihuly museum and KEXP are slated for the center, as all sources indicate, the Seattle Center will have up to $800,000 added to its annual budget (65 percent of its budget comes from tenant rent, parking payments, and other on-site revenue generating activities, while 35 percent comes from the city's cash-strapped general fund).

The city cut the Seattle Center's budget by 15 percent this year—or roughly $2 million—and the center had to make additional cuts of $1.4 million, meaning that the center's 2011-12 budget has been reduced by $3.4 million.

"We've cut positions, the temperature is three degrees cooler in all our buildings, and we cut the amount of assistance we give to our community partners [who rent space]," says Daoust.

Meanwhile, Daoust says the Seattle Children's Theatre has payment plan to settle their current $110,803 overdue bill. Intiman Theatre is negotiating a payment plan with the center—"They've been on payment plans in the past but they've had a hard time meeting those," says Daoust—to settle their $251,470 debt, and the Children's Museum, which is overdue $431,245, is also working to negotiate a payment plan.