Due to space constraints in this week’s paper, there wasn't enough room in my article on the turning Magnuson Park into commercial office space for everything that needs to be said. Here are three points I’d like to put back in, because my words come free on Slog (and you can scroll past if you are an asshole or a shut-in and think parks are boring):
1) Many of the buildings in Magnuson Park are eligible for federal historic designation, which will help preserve the buildings (to some extent) as far as restoration and use go. Lessees will get tax credits for rehabilitating some of the buildings (to start, buildings 11, which I focus on in my article and building 27, which is going to be developed into a sporting facility by Arena Sports), but they'll also be held accountable for maintaining the historic integrity of the buildings. This means you won’t behold the leering visage of Chuck E. Cheese any time soon at Magnuson Park. Hopefully. Don't hold me to that.
2) There is now a Magnuson Park Advisory Committee, and they are the new watchdog group representing community interests at the park. Rusty Williams, chair of this committee and former candidate for City Council, spoke with me about the committee's vision for Magnuson Park. So far, here is a short list of their goals (the 13-person committee has only had one meeting):
(a) Create a dedicated space in Magnuson Park for artists.
(b) Preserve Building 41, which might be torn down to create space for tennis courts (parks and the lessee are saying the building is too expensive to refurbish)
(c) Form a community center for Magnuson Park.
More exciting Magnuson news after the jump!
3) I mentioned above that Arena Sports Magnuson Park LLC will be moving into Building 27, and they're very open to hosting free public events. The LLC has already committed to reserving 55,000 square feet for free public events during its off-season weekends (April through September). They’re also providing the city with a free youth sports league that can accommodate up to 2,000 kids.
So, there you are. My article was mostly focused on the artists who have been promised a permanent space in Magnuson Park for ten years now (first the old fire house in 1999—until its roof collapsed—and recently, Building 30). Obviously, it's easier to accommodate private interests that can pay for space (and renovation), but it's past time to be held accountable to these artists, who have contributed so much to the park and the city.
That said, I don’t want to discount the positive changes taking place at Magnuson Park. Last week, City Council member Nick Licata told me, “My vision for Magnuson Park is dynamic, with workforce housing and artists’ space and select businesses.... We need to create a park that is interesting on a 24-hour basis.”
At least sports facilities is in line with this goal and can be accessed by the public, unlike commercial office space.