Prankster reimagines 3-yr-old eyesore construction site as giant happy playspace

(Photo: courtesy John Creed, via My Green Lake, a Seattle area neighborhood blog.)

In the Seattle neighborhood of Green Lake, a three-acre empty lot known to locals as the "Big Hole" has been reimagined as an awesome and ginormous play pit. The eyesore has been sitting there for three years. reports:

The sign, a parody of a Seattle Department of Planning and Development land use sign, indicates that the empty lot will be used “to construct one ground level ball pit pond containing 1,200,000 cu. ft. of rainbow plastic balls.”

“Parking for for 171 bicycles, 65 unicycles, and 13 tricycles to be provided in 2 levels within the structure,” the sign reads. “Existing ramp to be converted to one 40 ft. slide.”

A map on the sign shows a trampoline, a concessions area and a “rescue claw.”

The blog post has been picked up by, and by MSNBC.


  1. I think ‘pranks’ like this are a very useful and valuable way to bring issues to the public’s attention.  It reminds me a lot of “The Yes Men Fix the World” on a smaller scale.  What intrigues me so much about that film is The People’s [overwhelmingly positive] reaction to the final stunt they did contrasted with what we’re told we should want and what everyone else wants.  Sadly, I think the same thing will happen here–instead of having a laugh and then adding public space to the project, the developer will end up declaring that they know what is best and that what the public really wants is X, Y, and Z (and not public space).

  2. Sigh… to have lots that have been vacant for only three years. Too many real estate speculator are holding lots around me random, all playing chicken with each other to be the first to sell and/or develop, thus improving the value of everyone else’s lot.

    A few years ago the new mayor of Montgomery, Alabama proposed to jack up the property taxes on properties that were sitting vacant in order to help motivate the owners to sell to those who actually wanted to make use of the property. Not sure what happened but I’m going to guess the property owners went crazy and put an end to it. In this country you have a right to sit on an unproductive eyesore for as long as it takes for the rest of the community to create value for the property.

  3. And yet they had to tear down the Denny’s and not one but two bowling alleys to make more of these empty lots.  They’re all over the place in N. Seattle and they can’t seem to stop themselves from making more of them.

    The latest casualty that I noticed: Cyndie’s House of Pancakes.  One of the few places around that served dutch babies and always mentioned any time the topic of CFS came up.  Gone now, but at least they have a plan for this one – they are planning to replace it with a strip club.

    1. And it was a nice Googie Denny’s as well. It also looks like the developer decided that condos are not going to happen and do nothing with the lot best I can tell.

      As for Cyndi’s, not that I am a prude, but yeesh aren’t there enough strip joints in Seattle already.

    2. It’s very possible that during the demolition process, they realized that decades of Denny’s food had slowly but surely salted the earth.

      Nothing will grow there. Nothing can be built there.

    3. Good news for Seattle’s Cyndy’s House of Pancakes fans. The restaurant owner is still planning to reopen when the propery is redeveloped. And the strip club plans are old news — that developer could not get the proper permits so he never bought the property.

      Currently, the plans are for a mixed-use development, incorporating a four story apartment building (to house the formerly homeless), with commercial space at ground level, including space for a new Cyndy’s.

  4. You’d think the city could require lots vacant for more than a set amount of time be turned over for urban gardening until the owners get their acts together.

    Some raised, irrigated beds might help with the adverse possession idea too.  ;)

  5. >> The latest casualty that I noticed: Cyndie’s House of Pancakes.  One of
    the few places around that served dutch babies and always mentioned any
    time the topic of CFS came up.

    CFS? Covered Full Service?  No wonder they were torn down!
    Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? Doesn’t sound right…

    Ohhhh….Chicken Fried Steak.   

    A little obscure there on the initialism maybe?

  6. Too bad things like back taxes, massive profit margins on building materials and overpriced education get in the way of great ideas like that.

  7. I see there is still time to publicly comment and stop this incredible waste of tax payer dollars!  Land fill a 1.2 million cubic feet of plastic?–I think not!  This is a ecologic disaster.

    I know many of you are right now thinking, “Hey, let’s get a kick-starter project going to fund this ‘play area'”.  I say “Nay”!  We must stop this senseless use of plastic and keep the hole “pristine”, the way we found it.  The way nature intended it.  Why must we humans find a vacant lot with a nice valley, and fill it with toxic petro-chemicals?

    If we do anything with it, we must first do a environmental impact study.  And if that doesn’t show how bad the balls will be for the neighborhood and ecology, call in the lawyers…

    (Ok, I too wish I had the idea and the big printer to create such a sign.  I love the social jamming.  Jam On.)

  8. Sure, it’ll be fun and games for everyone- until the local Mob discover a new place to hide bodies…

  9. We need ways of using lots like this for SOMETHING till the developers manage to get whatever they’re doing going. Something that can be taken down quickly so when said developer DOES act it won’t be a hassle to them for temp removal. It has to be cheap. Also has to be easy to clean up while in use since I have nightmare images of people intentionally throwing things in ye olden ballpit like crack pipes, used needles, dead bodies, broken bottles and such.

  10. This reminds me of   They showed a lot of of the expensive crap that was thrown together during the Seattle housing boom and some of the ridiculous asking prices.

    In my own area of the MidWest, it isn’t that funds dry up before a project gets built that hurts.  It’s that every village competes for businesses with TIF financing.  Businesses build, operate for as long as the incentives last and then pull up stakes to grab tax breaks in the next village.  They leave behind their garbage – physical plant and ex-employees.

  11. There’s a lot on my way to work that used to have a farmhouse.. I’m quite a ways into the Chicago suburbs, and almost all the land was corn fields a couple decades ago. This last holdout was stuck in the middle of a strip mall + wall-mart development, and the land owner finally decided to raze the house this year. 

    What kills me is that this plot had a bunch of old oaks on it.. giant shade providing trees that looked rather nice. In the process of cleaning out the house, they took down the trees too. Now it’s 5 acres of young grass and a giant billboard advertising it’s zoned as commercial.

    Should be laws that trees have to stay up until the new building is going up.. at minimum. Best case, leave the trees there forever.

  12. Granted this is a great idea, but I am reminded of a great song by The Pasties.
    “fuck the new park on west bay drive. I liked it the way it was” 
    I would post a link but I can’t find a good youtube video or anything but if you can find it listen to it!

  13. It’s a pretty crappy prank as far as the kids in the neighborhood are concerned, because I’m sure plenty of them are going to see the sign as sincere.

    1. Yes, please, let us think of the children. *eyeroll* 

      For the three children who take the time to read a ‘Notice of Proposed Land Use Action’ sign all the way through, understand what it means and take it at face value, I do so hope their parents aren’t complete idiots and can take the time to explain that it’s a parody. 

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