Would It Work Here? The Indoor Park

By Jessica Voelker February 16, 2011 Published in the March 2011 issue of Seattle Met

“IT’S A SIMPLE RESPONSE to how brutal winter is,” says Jonathan Daou, inventor and owner of Park Here, the 4,500 square-foot, indoor popup park that drew over 50,000 sun-starved New Yorkers this winter.

Reeling from nearly 60 inches of cumulative snowfall, Manhattan embraced Daou’s faux-foliage paradise, basking beneath its seasonal affective disorder–combating lamps, picnicking on lobster rolls and tacos from on-site street-food vendors, and watching movies on the “lawn” at night. “People are so sun deprived, we give them the idea and they fill in the blanks with their imagination,” says Daou. Couldn’t Seattle—where an average of just two and a half sun hours per day this time of year has us all packing Paxil—benefit from its own indoor park?

Asked that question, Seattle Parks and Recreation spokesperson Dewey Potter replied noncommittally that her department “would love to entertain such an idea.” But limited funds are an obstacle, she said, especially since real estate is so expensive in highly populated areas like downtown and Capitol Hill, where an indoor park would be well used. And, she points out, our famously opinionated citizenry would have to weigh in on every inch of Astroturf the city purchased. We may not need Parks and Rec anyway: Daou says he is planning similar projects in other cold cities around the country; adding that the parks will be linked “in surprising ways.” Top of his list of cities are Chicago and, wouldntyaknowit, ­Seattle.

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