As Jen recently reported, a small colony of artists with studios in Magnuson Park are being evicted on May 1st to make way for renovation and the development of commercial office spaces in Building 11. The artists are saying the city gave them two months to vacate after encouraging them not to resist development—that they were told new spaces would be available for them in the west wing of Building 30. Now, after renting studios for five years in Building 11, the artists have been told that Building 30 won’t be ready for a few more years.
However, Seattle Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Dewey Potter says the parks department has been doing everything it can to find the artists a comparable place to move to, and it’s the artists who are not cooperating.
“We started meeting with them in August 2008,” Potter says, “and we’ve done walk-throughs of two schools—Viewlands Elementary, near Carkeek Park, and E.C. Hughes in W. Seattle—that everyone agreed at the time were potential sites.”
Potter says the problem is that the artists then talked amongst themselves and decided E.C. Hughes was too far away and both schools would need renovating, and the artists worry that renovating an old school would psychologically divert funds from renovating Building 30 for their eventual use. Basically, as a group, the artists don’t know what they want so the parks department can’t really help them.
She adds the artists also have the option of staying put, but they’d have to pay market rent once the development on Building 11 was completed. Current artist rents for a Magnuson studio space run from $.65 a square foot per month to $.87 a square foot per month. Comparatively, in 2008 the average rent rate for studio space in the city was $1.22 square foot per month.
“We’ve been straight with them from day one,” Potter says. “They’ve known this was coming and they’ve known they’re getting a great deal.”