In mock tribute, 300-foot statue of Allen sought
Kapow! Coffee in Seattle's South Lake Union neighborhood is gathering hundreds of signatures for a petition to erect a 300-foot statue of billionaire Paul Allen — a mock tribute to the man who is bringing corporate towers, trendy shops and upscale condos to a once blue-collar district.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Paul Allen is a giant influence in Seattle and beyond: from Microsoft, Experience Music Project and South Lake Union to space exploration.
Now, some want to deify — make that mock — the larger-than-life billionaire by erecting a 300-foot-tall bronze statue of him in South Lake Union's Cascade Park.
Hundreds have signed a petition started by Kapow! Coffee, a Cascade neighborhood coffee shop that says its rent has tripled as Allen's development company, Vulcan, has raised the profile of the area and lured big corporations and trendy shops.
"Fremont has Lenin and the Troll," quips Kapow! barista Jeremiah St. Georges. "Capitol Hill has Jimi Hendrix. So we just want to give the man his due and recognition for all the wonderful things he's done for our neighborhood."
St. Georges says he has collected hundreds of signatures and is soliciting designs for the statue — 300 feet would be roughly half the height of the Space Needle — on a Web site, www.buildthegiantpaul.com.To inspire creative ideas, the site features the legendary Colossus of Rhodes, with Allen's head superimposed over the giant's.
Officials at Vulcan get the joke.
"I think Kapow! has found themselves a wonderful way to make more money poking fun at Paul Allen than selling coffee," said Vulcan spokeswoman Lyn Tangen. "I'm pretty skeptical anyone could do a 300-foot statue anywhere in the neighborhood or anywhere in the city."
That same coffee shop, she noted, has also enjoyed great success poking fun at the new South Lake Union trolley, which Allen persuaded the city to support. Kapow! became an overnight hit when it dubbed the streetcar the S.L.U.T. and now does a brisk business selling its "Ride the S.L.U.T." T-shirts.
Vulcan owns about one-third of the South Lake Union district and has played a leading role in the redevelopment of the area, which for decades had been neglected and known for vacant industrial warehouses, creaking houses and on-and-off storefronts.
Vulcan got city backing for the streetcar line and new parks, and won zoning changes that are allowing it to build 160-foot buildings.
All that's paying off as the likes of Microsoft, Amazon, Group Health and the University of Washington set up offices in the neighborhood, where workers may choose to live in the thousands of new apartment and condo units being built — most by Vulcan.
Linda Charcas, 53, said she truly appreciates all of that and feels safer walking in a neighborhood in which she has worked for about two decades.
"I think Paul Allen has done a lot for the area," Charcas said. "I don't know about a statue," she said, but she signed the petition as "a way of saying, 'Thanks.' "
The petition drive has also attracted those protesting the style of new development. For them, a 300-foot-tall statue of Allen would be a sarcastic tribute to the developer's impact on the landscape.
"If you've got buildings going up too tall for people to see the lake, a 300-foot statue is kind of speaking to that, isn't it?" said Jeanette Housner, 67. She doesn't even live in Cascade — she's from Bellevue — but thinks the big new buildings are ugly.
The statue would tower above any of those new buildings.
St. Georges, the Kapow! barista, even has a Plan B.
If the statue wouldn't fit in the park, it could always straddle the Mercer Mess, with cars zooming between its legs as they head on or off the freeway — just as ships supposedly sailed under the Colossus of Rhodes.
Sanjay Bhatt: 206-464-3103 or email@example.com
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
UPDATE - 09:46 AM
Exxon Mobil wins ruling in Alaska oil spill case
NEW - 7:51 AM
Longview man says he was tortured with hot knife
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.
I've been fortunate to have traveled the world: Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia. Exotic islands, too. Wherever I go, I'm struck by one undeniable trut...
Post a comment