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April 2010
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CityLink Seattle

Fun Forest South RFP

Seattle Center has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to redevelop all or some portion of the 1 ½ acre Fun Forest south area available later this year following the departure of Fun Forest Amusements, LLC from the area south of the Seattle Center Monorail station.

The Center will consider a broad range of proposals for temporary, long-term use of the area (up to 20 years) in keeping with the vision and mission of the department and the aspirations of the Seattle Center Century 21 Master Plan, including proposals for revenue generating activities as well as those that return substantial public benefits. Selection criteria include a proponent’s demonstrated ability to fully fund, implement and operate the proposal.

The RFP states the preference for public use of the space to commence no later than summer 2011. The desire is to have a completed attraction in place by the six-month celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair in 2012. 

The Fun Forest south area, a relatively level, open space with an asphalt surface and 21,600 square-foot, concrete brick arcade building, is located to the southeast of Center House. Fun Forest Amusements has operated the Fun Forest for 47 years.  It intends to vacate the space at the end of September 2010. 

Seattle Center will cast its RFP net widely in hopes of attracting proposals from a broad range of proponents from across the region and beyond.  Proposals must be submitted by June 4, 2010, as specified in the RFP.  Those seeking to submit proposals must register through the City of Seattle ebid eXchange system. For more information on the Request for Proposal: Redevelopment of Seattle Center South Fun Forest Area, visit http://www.seattlecenter.com/ or email: Neal.Erickson@seattle.gov.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Seattle Center considering private ventures on the campus, a city owned property?  Public-private partnerships have been the lifeblood of Seattle Center and have allowed it over the years to meet its mission of presenting a mix of public programs, attractions and active open space that inspire the spirit and bring our community together.  Currently, Seattle Center must generate 65% of its operating revenue through non-City sources, and so it continues to welcome those partnerships.

Does pursuing private activities in the Fun Forest south area mean that Seattle Center is abandoning the Century 21 Master Plan?  The Century 21 Master Plan, created through a 2-year public process and adopted by the Seattle City Council in 2008, charts a 20-year course for campus redevelopment. It is guided by a set of stated Planning and Design Principles.  Any viable proposal must abide by these principals and also support the vision and mission for Seattle Center.

What is the intent of the Request for Proposals?  As stated in the RFP, Seattle Center intends to solicit proposals that further the vision and mission for Seattle Center while achieving an appropriate balance between providing benefits to the public and financial support to Seattle Center.

Can you say more about the balance between public benefits and revenue?  The RFP will consider a range of financial and public benefit returns – from straight rent for use of the Fun Forest south to reduced rent with measurable public benefit, to proposals that provide measurable benefit in lieu of rent.  This is in keeping with the City of Seattle approach to use of City-owned facilities.   

 Must proposals take on the entire Fun Forest south area?  The RFP allows proposals for any or all of three areas, including the 21,600 square-foot Arcade Pavilion, open space where the “Kiddie Rides” currently reside, and an 865 square-foot retail kiosk currently used as retail space.

 Will Seattle Center help to pay for any of the proposed uses of the Fun Forest south?  No, proposers are expected to be able to fully fund all capital and operating costs of their proposal through the duration of the contract.

 Will use of the Fun Forest south area be permanent?  No, the RFP clearly states that Seattle Center will consider proposals for a maximum of 20 years.  The hope is to take on larger projects contained in the Century 21 Master Plan over the next several years.  The smaller, 1.5 acre Fun Forest area is not slated for redevelopment until much farther down the line.

Wat’s the hurry to find a tenant or use for the Fun Forest south area?  Fun Forest Amusements, LLC obtained early lease termination for the two parts of the Fun Forest, north and south, because of financial difficulties.  It vacated the north part of the Fun Forest at the end of 2009, a 3-acre parcel that currently is being made into public space; and it plans to end its lease of the south area at the end of September 2010.  It is a priority for Seattle Center to be able to activate the space in time for the 50th anniversary celebration of the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, April – October, 2012.

What will happen to the site if private development does not come to pass?  The rides and games will be gone by the end of September, leaving a large expanse of asphalt and a large, empty concrete brick building. Site redevelopment, trees, grass and upkeep all require funding; and currently, there is no public funding for upgrading the space or even rehabilitating it from its former uses. 

What can you say about the public process around use of the Fun Forest south area?  Seattle Center is committed to public processes on redevelopment initiatives, as evident from the 2-year process of creating the Century 21 Master Plan.

A proposal for a privately and fully funded redevelopment and use of the Fun Forest south area came to Seattle Center in the summer of 2009, and was presented in the summer and fall of 2009 to the Mayor’s Office and Seattle City Council, who gave the go-ahead to pursue the proposal.  The idea was also vetted by the Seattle Center Advisory Commission and Century 21 Committee, the two citizens bodies involved in campus redevelopment.  The Seattle Design Commission reviewed conceptual designs for the exhibition in public meetings held in November 2009 and January 2010.

Seattle Center in March 2010 listened to media and interest group response to the proposal and determined that a broader public process was desired, and so it announced its intent to issue a RFP to solicit a wider range of options for use of the space.  Since that time, a draft RFP has been approved by the City Law Department, Mayor’s Office and City Budget Office, and a final version has been issued.  

How will potential private development of the south area of the Fun Forest affect public space at Seattle Center?  It won’t have an effect on public space at Seattle Center. The Fun Forest south site was never public space.  It has been leased to Fun Forest Amusements, LLC, a private, family-owned company, since 1963.  What the Center gains as a result of the Fun Forest departure is three new acres of open, activated public space in the Fun Forest north area.

There’s been a lot in the news lately about diminishing public space at Seattle Center. What is the status of open space on the campus?  Since the Master Plan was adopted in 2008, we’ve implemented several projects related to open space, including:

  • Broad Street Green redevelopment creating several acres of  more functional open space
  • Seattle Center Skatepark, with public art and garden plantings (10,000 square foot)
  • Theater Commons, an inviting, green north entry and activity area under construction for completion by Memorial Day weekend in a space once occupied by a surface parking lot (1.5 acres)
  • Vacated north area of the former Fun Forest, now called Center Square (3 acres)
  • Seattle Center last year negotiated an agreement with Seattle Public Schools to turn the Memorial Stadium and adjacent surface lot into green space and a play field/amphitheater, adding 9 acres of open, green space to the campus.  The agreement awaits Council and School Board approval.
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