Business owners say waterfront mural is a waste of money

SEATTLE -- Some call it a mural, others call it a sign, but not everyone is happy with the latest project by the city of Seattle to steer people around the construction of the seawall.

The Office of the Waterfront is administering a painting project on of the viaduct's arches facing east toward downtown at Union Street. Eventually the word "aquarium" will be painted in big black letters over a bright yellow background with arrows pointing north in the direction of the Seattle Aquarium.

The $9,600 mural is part of $95,000 project to promote the waterfront and help visitors navigate around the construction. But some business owners question if it's money well spent and if it shows favoritism.

"I think it's awful," said Ken Eubank, owner of Seattle Antiques Market, which sits directly below the newly painted bright yellow arch.

Eubank is all for promoting waterfront businesses but says just advertising the aquarium shows favoritism, especially since his request to the city to create signs to promote his business was denied.

"(They said) that would be favoritism. They said if they build signs for me, they would have to build signs for everybody," he said.

Eubank isn't the only local business owner who sees the mural as a waste of money.

"I think its a waste to spend any money like that on something that's eventually going to come down," said Steve Bohn, owner of the Happy Salmon.

Bohn said he'd rather see the money spent to improve parking.

The city defends the decision to paint the viaduct sign, saying people need to look at the bigger picture.

"So we are spending $9,600 to help the public access the waterfront and support the businesses down there, we think that's money very well spent," said Marshall Foster, Design and Planning Manager for Seattle's Waterfront.

He also said the city is not showing favoritism toward the Aquarium because the Aquarium is a landmark destination for the city and a tourist draw for the waterfront.

"We've worked with property owners up and down the waterfront on how we are doing the signage, and the sense was the aquarium was a good destination to mark," he said.

Next week, the city will be setting up 11 new informational kiosks to help visitors navigated the waterfront to as part of the same project that funded the mural.