In response to hundreds of emails, phone calls, and public comments, Seattle Center opened up a Request For Proposal (RFP) process in April for the redevelopment of the southern portion of the area known as the Fun Forest.
Since the World’s Fair ended in October of 1962, a company known as Fun Forest Amusements, Inc., has operated the Fun Forest under a facility use and concession agreement with Seattle Center. The Fun Forest was divided into a north and south section, separated by the Seattle Center Monorail station. At the end of 2009, the north portion of the site was vacated and has now been replaced by “Center Square,” a gathering space that features a maze, basketball court, labyrinth, covered stage, and a children’s garden run by The Children’s Museum. By the end of the summer, the lease on the remaining southern portion will expire, and the RFP process initiated in late April will help direct what will happen next in that space.
When the application window closed on Friday, June 4th, Seattle Center had received a total of nine responses featuring a variety of ideas for the site. The complete list of proposals have been posted on Seattle Center’s website and my Council website and I hope you’ll take a moment to evaluate the options presented.
Members of the Century 21 Committee, which oversaw creation of the Master Plan (adopted by the Seattle City Council as Resolution 31071 in August 2008) will review the proposals over the next few weeks. Bill Block, current chair of the Seattle Center Advisory Commission, will lead this group in their deliberations. The other members of the panel include Maria Barrientos, Trish Dziko, Tom Gerlach, Jerry Quinn Lee, Donna Moodie, Jeff Schoenfeld and Bryce Seidl.
Proposals will be evaluated based on the following factors, all of which are outlined in the RFP (http://www.seattlecenter.com/downloads/ff_rfp_addendum.pdf):
A. Compatibility with and contribution to the Seattle Center vision, existing facilities, and the unique mix of programs, attractions and open spaces at Seattle Center.
B. Compatibility with the Center 21 Master Plan.
C. The proposer’s ability to create and operate a high quality experience for patrons.
D. Proposer’s financial condition.
E. Proposed financial return to the City.
F. Anticipated benefit to the public.
G. Proposer’s initial and ongoing investment in the site and future services.
H. The Proposal’s impact on future Seattle Center capital expenditures or increased net operating costs.
I. How the proposer expects to partner with Seattle Center to achieve the Seattle Center vision.
Once the group has time to evaluate each proposal according to those criteria, a short list of the top-ranked proposals will be established and additional information-gathering or interviews will be completed by the evaluators through the first week of July.
Seattle Center has indicated that the review panel plans to hold a meeting for public comment prior to making their recommendation to Seattle Center Director Robert Nellams. The date and time of that meeting has not yet been set, but I’ll be happy to contact you when I get more information. I encourage you to check my website to follow the process – we’ll be providing regular updates as the process moves forward.
Seattle Center will then make a recommendation to the Mayor, who will determine how to proceed. The Seattle City Council will become involved if the Mayor chooses to send a proposal to the Council for adoption.
I’ll endeavor to make sure that any public meeting fall on a weeknight to allow as much public participation as possible. Public commentary on the different proposals will be an important part of this process, and I invite you to share your thoughts with both Seattle Center Director Robert Nellams and Mayor Mike McGinn.
The bottom line is that because of concerned citizens like you, we have successfully opened up the process. I hope you’ll remain engaged as the process moves forward.