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Thursday, November 30, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Seattle Center moves toward change

Seattle Times staff reporter

Seattle's storied public process won't bypass Seattle Center.

Mayor Greg Nickels announced Wednesday that he is creating a 16-member committee to help reshape Seattle Center, which is worn and frayed at places, such as the Fun Forest amusement park, and is facing uncertainty at other venues, including KeyArena.

Nickels' instructions to the Century 21 Committee, which meets today for the first time?

"I've asked this committee to listen carefully to the broadest range of people in our city, then make recommendations on how we meet the needs and expectations of the community as we strive to make Seattle Center the best gathering place in America," Nickels said.

Nickels hopes to ask voters in 2008 for tens of millions of dollars to upgrade Seattle Center and Pike Place Market. He said the committee will be charged with charting the Center's course for the next 20 years, including where to make investments.

David Brewster, former director of Town Hall Seattle, has urged the city to convert large swaths of the 74-acre Seattle Center to open green space. Others, including members of a recent mayoral task force, disagree, calling instead for major investments in the center's buildings.

The new committee will be chaired by Jan Levy, executive director of Leadership Tomorrow, and Jeff Wright, board chairman of the Space Needle Corp.

The center took a step in a new direction earlier this week, when Nickels announced the city and the Seattle International Film Festival would create a state-of-the-art cinema in McCaw Hall. Tuesday marked another milestone, when the city formally closed a deal selling 12 acres at the center to the Gates Foundation for its new world headquarters.

Bob Young: 206-464-2174 or byoung@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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