As the Seattle Center prepares to sell off a chunk of precious open space to a for-profit, paid-admission Chihuly gallery/gift shop/catering hall, purely for financial reasons, the city might want to take a look at what’s happening in New York City, where in the midst of the Great Recession the city is building a series of innovative, kick-ass playgrounds… as economic development tools!
NPR’s Planet Money has a piece up on NYC’s new Imagination Playground, a $7 million project that reimagines urban play spaces from the cookie-cutter collection of slides, sandboxes and jungle gyms with which we’re all familiar, into a space where kids can use their imaginations to play in a less structured way. And according to NPR, playgrounds like this are popping up all over the city, despite falling tax revenues and tight budgets.
Why? Because when you build family friendly amenities like this, it attracts families with children, raising surrounding property values and drawing customers to nearby businesses. And isn’t that what the Seattle Center is really looking for? More repeat business for its existing tenants to help finance its operations?
Take a few minutes to watch the video above and listen to the Planet Money report below, and then try to tell me that something like this wouldn’t be a more valuable addition to both the city and the Center than the Chihuly proposal. In other words, you know… use your imagination.