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Originally published Saturday, January 20, 2007 at 12:00 AM

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Sculpture park as selling point

Would a short walk to Seattle's new Olympic Sculpture Park help persuade you to give up your home in the 'burbs? Sellers of condominium projects...

Seattle Times business reporter

Would a short walk to Seattle's new Olympic Sculpture Park help persuade you to give up your home in the 'burbs?

Sellers of condominium projects near the park in Seattle's Belltown neighborhood hope the answer is "yes."

They're sending e-mails to potential buyers about the park's opening today, giving some another reason to consider selling their spacious homes in suburbia for swank new condos downtown.

"It's kind of the piece that Seattle has been missing," says Laura Brice, sales manager at the Gallery, a 214-unit condominium under construction at Second Avenue and Broad Street. "We do have Myrtle Edwards Park, but that's more for the joggers and bikers. It's not a place where you can sit and relax and look at fantastic art."

The new $85 million park, founded by the Seattle Art Museum, covers nearly nine acres at the north end of downtown's waterfront and features more than 20 sculptures by some of the top 20th Century artists.

Park opens today


Opening events include a dedication ceremony at 11 a.m. and music performances through the weekend. Events run 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. today and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. A list is at www.seattletimes.com/sculpturepark.

The site also includes a walking-tour audio you can download, an interactive map and other features.

At the Gallery sales center nearby, a flat-screen TV takes prospective buyers on a virtual tour of the condominium, scheduled to open in fall 2008. One of the first things they see is the park's proximity to the Gallery, where units range in price from about $285,000 to more than $3 million.

"The park has been a huge selling point for us," Brice says.

Another condominium being built in Belltown actually gets its name from the park. Called The Parc, it's going up at Western Avenue and Clay Street, and this weekend, it's holding an open house for prospective buyers heading to the opening.

"It's a way to show our connection to the park," says Dean Jones, president of Seattle marketing firm Realogics.

Jones says he hopes Seattleites will come to call the northern part of Belltown the "Park District," a term he began using five years ago while promoting the Vine condominiums. He says the park will help draw more people downtown from the suburbs.

"You've got serenity on one side and vibrancy on the other," he says. "That makes a lot of sense for people who can't decide which one they prefer."

John Durnan says the park was a major factor in his decision to buy a one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo at The Parc, which is scheduled to open in April.

Durnan, who lives in a condo in Seattle's Green Lake neighborhood, says he wanted to be closer to his job at Nordstrom but worried that if he moved downtown, he'd miss his walks at the lake during the spring, summer and fall. With the Sculpture Park opening, he sees Belltown as an "even trade."

Amy Martinez: 206-464-2923 or amartinez@seattletimes.com

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