By Terry Stephens
Already an international aviation attraction, the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field (BFI) purchased land in March for its next phase of major development. A new building is planned for historic spacecraft and aircraft exhibits. It will also house Seattle’s Aviation High School.
The 6.5-acre site is adjacent to the museum’s Air Park, located across the street from the main facility. The new building is expected to house one of NASA’s soon-to-be retired space shuttles, which the museum hopes to obtain in 2010, according to Gene McBrayer, a director on the museum’s board. McBrayer, also chairman of the board’s planning committee, said several museums are competing for shuttles, but he’s confident the Museum of Flight will get one of the four shuttles expected to become available.
The new property will also provide space for a covered exhibit area for the museum’s Air Park. Six famous planes are already on display at the Air Park, including the Boeing Company’s original 747 and 737, a 727 trijet airliner, the first Air Force One to use a 707 airframe and a supersonic Concorde. When it’s completed, the expanded Air Park will showcase 16 large planes.
The new site will be home to a permanent 61,000-square-foot building for Aviation High School, which opened three years ago. Presently, the Highline School District’s Aviation High School, providing an aviation-oriented curriculum, is based at South Seattle Community College near Boeing Field.
“This key parcel, part of the formerly contaminated Rhone-Poulenc industrial site in south Seattle, is a perfect candidate for reuse,” said Rick Albright, the Seattle-based director of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Air Waste and Toxics. “By becoming both an extension of the museum and part of an innovative high school program for high achievers, this will serve as a prime example for other redevelopment projects in Seattle and across our region.”
The EPA worked with owners Container Properties LLC to ensure the site’s cleanup was completed before the sale. Located within the greater Lower Duwamish River Superfund site, the museum’s new property was cleaned up last fall when 5,000 cubic yards of copper and PCB contaminated soil was removed. The EPA has placed no restrictions on use of the property.
The sale was arranged with cooperation between the Museum of Flight, the EPA and Container Properties LLC. The property’s purchase price wasn’t announced.
The purchase agreement for the property included a substantial philanthropic gift from Mark W. Robison and William A. Davis, the principals of Container Properties. The expansion is a partnership between the Museum of Flight Foundation, the King County Museum of Flight Authority and King County.
Presently, the Museum of Flight serves more than 100,000 children each year through its education programs. The planned expansion, which includes three new classrooms, will provide a 40 percent increase in the number of children able to participate in the museum’s aviation and science education programs.