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Seattle Center kicks off summer with a new role - managing Waterfront Park in partnership with Friends of Waterfront Seattle


SEATTLE (June 29, 2023) – Starting July 1, Seattle Center is expanding its services to provide maintenance and public safety for Waterfront Park.

With the transformation of Seattle’s Waterfront well underway, Seattle Center will be stepping into a partnership with Friends of Waterfront Seattle (Friends) to manage operations, maintenance, and public safety in the public promenade, Overlook Walk, Pier 58, and Pier 62 at Waterfront Park. A role formerly held by Seattle Parks and Recreation.

Seattle Center brings to the partnership its expertise in managing a complex urban public space with large-scale events, programming, maintenance, and public safety integrated into its core operations. This new role closely aligns with the vision and goals for Waterfront Park operations, while relying on the strong partnership approach Seattle Center brings to its work.

This decision was confirmed in the City’s 2023 budget and legislative passed by Seattle City Council early this year. Since then, Seattle Center has focused on hiring a dedicated team of City employees who provide maintenance and public safety at the park. This team is funded through the voter-approved Seattle Park District funding for Waterfront Park, and significant philanthropic support from Friends.

The City’s public/private partnership with Friends, will continue to realize the bold vision to connect all of Seattle neighborhoods to the Waterfront through diverse, community-centered public programs, supporting local businesses, and ensuring a safe, welcoming park for all visitors. The Friends’ partnership has been instrumental in the success of free public programs and events at Pier 62 and has seen more than 850,000 visitors since it opened in September 2020.

As the non-profit partner, Friends is continuing to raise $110M to support the construction of Waterfront Park. This is part of an ambitious $200M comprehensive campaign which will be completed in 2025. This includes critical annual funding for programs, community engagement, public safety, and overall operations of the park to date and into the future. Currently, they are raising leadership gifts and will be launching a community campaign in late 2024 for everyone to be part of building this transformative park for the City.

Friends will also continue to program and activate the park under a new six-year management agreement with the City. Seattle Center, working with the City’s Waterfront Oversight Committee, will provide oversight of the management agreement. The City’s Office of the Waterfront and Civic Projects is responsible for the construction of the park and primarily funded by Seattle taxpayers.

“While Waterfront Park continues to open in phases between now and 2025, we are beginning our maintenance and public safety operations now with a dedicated team,” said Marshall Foster, interim director of Seattle Center. “With the recently approved management agreement, Seattle Center, in partnership with Friends can support the City’s goals to help ensure a ‘Waterfront for All’ that is safe, accessible, and welcoming to everyone.”

“Waterfront Park will be an extraordinary new civic space for Seattle and a stunning new destination to gather, be connected to the waterfront, to the Salish Sea, and to one another,” said Joy Shigaki, president & CEO of Friends of Waterfront Seattle. “Visitors deserve an amazing experience when they come to Waterfront Park now and when it fully opens in 2025. Seattle Center is a best-in-class partner to provide public safety and maintenance at the highest standard. We are thrilled to be partnering with Seattle Center in this work.”

About Seattle Center
Connect to the extraordinary at Seattle Center, an active civic, arts, and family gathering place in the core of our city and region. Seattle Center’s 74-acre campus, centered around the International Fountain, is part of the Uptown Arts & Cultural District and home to Climate Pledge Arena; more than 30 cultural, educational, sports and entertainment organizations; and a broad range of public and community programs. In everything it does, Seattle Center’s mission is to create exceptional events, experiences, and environments which delight and inspire the human spirit to build stronger communities.

About Friends of Waterfront Seattle
Friends of Waterfront Seattle is the non-profit partner to the City of Seattle responsible for funding, stewarding, programming, and activating the park — today and into the future. In deep collaboration with individuals, communities, businesses, and institutional partners, Friends is creating, caring for, and activating a new place to reconnect — to the water, to the mountains, to our city, and to one another.


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