This morning on his blog, Mayor Mike Mcginn pitched an idea to renovate Building 30 at Magunson Park—which hosts the Friends of the Library Book Sale among other cool events—using the city's MOHAI loan money while, uh, slamming the loan in the process. That may not be the classiest move, but it is a smart idea:
We recently learned Building 30 at Magnuson Park is at risk. The Fire Department and City building inspectors are restricting its use due to deteriorating conditions. Parks has been scheduling more than 35 events in the building each year. Now, they will be able to only host four.
This is bad news for all the people and activities that have found a home in building 30, including the annual Friends of the Library Book Sale, the Arboretum Foundation Plant Sale and the Best of the Northwest Craft Show, along with more than 30 other events each year.
It’s also bad news for the Parks department. These events generate $121,000 annually, which helps fund critical recreational activities all over Seattle. The loss of this ongoing revenue couldn’t come at a worse time. It will mean even deeper cuts to Parks budget.
But there is a solution. During the debate last month over the City’s deal with MOHAI, Councilmember Licata successfully negotiated a zero interest, $8.5 million, two-year loan from MOHAI. I still think this was a bad deal for Seattle. The City Council gave away way too much to MOHAI: $47 million from the sale of Parks property, along with a commitment for a $300,000 annual subsidy payment to the museum.
Councilmember Licata’s loan concession does give us an opportunity to make a smart investment with this $8.5 million loan that will actually pay us dividends for many years to come. Parks estimates that, for $8.5 million, they can renovate building 30 to keep the hangar open for community events and can renovate the west wing for artist work space.
This will bring in almost half a million dollars in annual revenue to Parks that they would not otherwise have. It will protect the $121,000 in event space rentals and will generate an additional $350,000 from work space rentals in the west wing. That’s a pretty good return.