With CHS breaking the news that the longtime operators of The Egyptian Theatre are planning to pull the plug on the Capitol Hill movie house and that landlord Seattle Central is looking for a new tenant for the 1916 building, the rest of the city is also weighing in on the future of the property. Here is the latest from CHS and some of the interesting ideas, datapoints and clarifications of misconceptions we’ve seen. Let us know if you’ve found anything interesting to add.
- Latest from CHS: The 600-seat Egyptian will be up for lease sometime after July 1, once Landmark fully moves out its theater equipment. In the meantime SCCC officials say the building’s classrooms and offices, known as SCCC’s Fine Arts Building, will stay open. SCCC will also continue to host its own events in the theater space though it will likely be mostly empty until a new tenant is lined up. The school says it will send out a request for proposals for interested tenants “within a month.” The lease process will emphasize “enrichment of the community,” a SCCC representative tells us, and not be based on a highest bid. It’s a similar situation to how Capitol Hill Housing decided on a potential new tenant to take over The Canterbury. We’re told the SCCC selection committee will also include “community members.” The goal is for the facility to be “used and appreciated by the community,” the rep said adding that the rent is set at a level only to cover the costs of owning and maintaining the old building — not generate a return on investment.
More datapoints: Rent is in the ballpark of $7,500 per month plus another $900 in taxes and maintenance fees , the property was appraised for nearly $6 million this year according to King County Records and the structure represents a whopping 63,000 square-feet of brick-encased space — 16,000 of which is the theater.
- You can listen to jseattle talk with KUOW about The Egyptian here (MP3)
- Seattle Met talked with one of the principals in The Egyptian’s early days following the SIFF conversion in the ’80s about who should take over the theater next. Five organizations are suggested included the Hill’s 3 Dollar Bill Cinema and, of course, SIFF.
- Not mentioned in the Met list: music. We’ve seen a call or 3,000 for the Capitol Hill Block Party to get involved. UPDATE: We talked with a local music promoter about the prospects for The Egyptian as a live music venue. Calling it a “very competitive market” currently in Seattle, the promoter said it’s possible the theater could eventually be permitted for crowds greater than its current 600-seat capacity. The Neptune Theater weighs in with 800 seats while biggies like the 1,800-seat Moore and 2,800-seat Paramount help make the economics of scale in the ticketing biz work out.
- The Seattle Times data guy shares numbers on why The Egyptian is dying (paywall) — and has some bar charts to prove it: “We’re actually watching more movies than ever–just not in the theaters. Movie house attendance in Seattle has been, at best, flat. Online viewing, on the other hand, has grown by 85 percent among city residents since 2011, according to market data from Scarborough Research.”
- This KING 5 TV reporter says: “at least a dozen companies have already expressed interest in saving the Egyptian Theatre”
- The exit of Landmark Theatres does not represent the end of “98 years of Seattle cinema history” as some have said. The Masons owned the space prior to the 1980 conversion to a movie house — and continued to be the landlords until the early 90s. What do you think they did in there?
- Landmark’s social media folks posted the following message to say goodbye via Facebook:
Thursday, June 27 will be the last day of business for Landmark Theatres as operator of the Egyptian Theatre. Landmark, and the Egyptian management and staff in particular, extend thanks to our customers and friends over the years; we’ve loved entertaining you there. Landmark will continue its commitment in the Seattle area to present quality moviegoing experiences with a focus on independent and foreign film, and we’ll see you at our other venues: the Harvard Exit Theatre, the Guild 45th Theatre, the Seven Gables Theatre, the Varsity Theatre and the Crest Cinema Center.
UPDATE: Here’s a statement from SCCC on the process to find the building’s next tenant:
Seattle Central to request lease proposals for theater
Because of the wide-spread interest in renting the historic Egyptian Theatre, the Seattle Community Colleges District will issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) within a month so all interested parties can submit their proposals.
“It is important that we not show any favoritism and also not leave out anyone who is interested,” said Jeff Keever, Seattle Central director of auxiliary services. More than a dozen groups or individuals have contacted the college about the facility since news broke that Landmark did not want to renew its lease. “This is a great opportunity for the neighborhood and the college. I can’t wait to see what proposals are
The RFP will be issued by the Seattle Community Colleges District office as they oversee all Seattle community colleges—Central, North, South and Seattle Vocational Institute. The notice will be posted in several publications with details on the scope and dimension required in submitting proposals. Tours of the facility for interested parties also will be arranged at that time.
The theatre is part of Seattle Central’s Fine Arts Building and classes and student support offices take up the majority of the space. The theatre has its own separate entrance so its closing will not affect any campus activities.
Almost since its inception, the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) has used The Egyptian as part of its program and wants to preserve that tradition. “We have always had a good relationship with SIFF and hope that can continue,” Keever said. “The Egyptian Theatre name is attached to the theater so it will stay, as will the façade. New tenants will probably want to do some updating inside– although those details will be seen in the proposals.”