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In early 2009, the City Council passed Ordinance 122814, authorizing the Parks and Recreation Department to enter into a lease agreement with Building 11 Investors LLC for the renovation, development and operation of Building 11 at Magnuson Park. The plan was to lease the building to the LLC for them to renovate in return for them securing tenants that would pay rent to the LLC.
Unfortunately, disagreements over the lease developed between the City and the LLC that lead to litigation resulting in a settlement that the City Council recently approved. The agreement ends the LLC’s lease and returns the building to the City while compensating the LLC for its capital improvement costs, professional services, and other related expenses in the amount of $7,250,000. The LLC will continue construction this year to meet code compliance and subsequent operation of the building by the Parks and Recreation Department.
During the original lease being negotiated in 2009, I learned that the approximately 24 artists who had leased studios in Building 11 for the previous 9 years were about to have their leases terminated. In order to retain at least some of those artists, I proposed to the LLC they allow the Parks and Recreation Department to lease a smaller area of artist studios in the building from the LLC and, in turn, the Parks and Recreation Department would lease those units to any artists wishing to return once rehabilitation was complete. Although the LLC and the Parks and Recreation Department agreed to my proposal, disagreements over the master lease prevented that agreement from being exercised.
Now that operation of the building will return to the Parks and Recreation Department, I would like to see working artists return.
With years-long waiting lists at Seattle’s few affordable artist studios – TK Lofts, Hiawatha Lofts, the Good Shepherd Center artist lofts, etc. – I’m sure it won’t take long to lease Building 11’s artist studios to working artists.
By recruiting artists into both Building 30 and into Building 11, the City comes closer to achieving its long-held vision of Magnuson Park being a home to creativity as well as to recreation and environmental stewardship.
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