In 2015 King County Executive Dow Constantine signed legislation to enact “Building for Culture,” an expansion of 4Culture‘s annual facilities grant program. To date it is the largest one-time investment King County has made to build new cultural facilities, as well as expand, preserve, and improve existing ones. More than 100 arts and cultural organizations will benefit from $28.4 million in capital improvement grant funds financed by bonds backed by a portion of the County’s hotel/motel tax revenues.
Of these funds, $8,697,500 has been distributed to projects qualifying as New Cultural Destinations. SuttonBeresCuller’s Mini Mart City Park (http://minimartcitypark.com/) is included alongside recipients including Burke Museum, Center for Wooden Boats, Duvall Foundation for the Arts, Museum of Flight Aviation Pavilion, Nordic Heritage Museum, and Vashon Allied Arts Center for the Arts, among others.
The $200,000 award granted to Mini Mart City Park will be spent finalizing plans for an on-site building designed by Seattle architecture and design firm goCstudio (http://gocstudio.com/), as well as demolition, remediation, and phase I construction.
Mini Mart City Park is a community-focused project in the process of transforming a former gas station into a site-specific, sculptural pocket park and community center. There are over 700 derelict, toxic gas stations in the Puget Sound region and over 200,000 nationwide. In 2005 it was our vision to identify and purchase one such property in King County and rehabilitate it, proving the potential of art to propel a project that simultaneously repairs damaged land while providing shared, multi-use community space. In the process of realizing Mini Mart City Park, we hope to break down perceived boundaries between the realms of public art and environmental activism. We believe the findings and concepts underlying this project will cross over to other cities, taking root in and responding to other municipal conditions across the globe.
Working closely with the Environmental Coalition of South Seattle in 2008, we were able to identify and procure a 5300 sq. ft. site for our inaugural project in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood. In 2013 SuttonBeresCuller formed a non-profit-organization and purchased the site. Since then, Mini Mart City Park has been at the center of a multi-pronged effort to simultaneously address artist-initiated environmental stewardship, new approaches to adaptive reuse of existing architecture and community engagement.
For seven years Mini Mart City Park has garnered the fiscal sponsorship of the Georgetown Community Council and worked alongside the council, local residents, and businesses to develop programming that will have the most impact for the community. Since 2009, the project’s programming has included public events including concerts by Japanther, Tacocat and Awesome, the Fence Mural Project (with temporary work by nine neighborhood artists), and Brent Watanabe’s interactive, site specific projection-mapped installation “Come Again.”
The final phase of the project involves the construction of the park’s main building. In 2015 SuttonBeresCuller teamed up with architecture firm goCstudio to design the structure, which will incorporate both solar panels and a microdigester system for converting organic materials—including the contaminated soil on the property—into renewable energy. In addition to functioning as a community gathering space, this plot of land will also be a little power plant, feeding energy back into the grid. The building design incorporates sliding walls and a green roof to create a porous, modular space that blends indoor and outdoor activities such as movies in the park, potlucks, community meetings, readings and live music.
To date Mini Mart City Park has received grants from Creative Capital Foundation, as well as funding from The Seattle Foundation, Art Matters, Allied Arts, 4Culture, the Mayor’s Office of Art & Culture, and the King County Brownfields Program. The funding received from King County’s “Building for Culture” grant will set this final step of construction in motion. During the building project period of 2016-2017, Mini Mart City Park will remained closed to the public, with the exception of limited programming if and when construction permits.