One (familiar) bidder for Capitol Hill’s Egyptian Theatre

Attendees line up outside a SIFF screening at the Egyptian

Attendees line up outside a SIFF screening at the Egyptian

Earlier this week, CHS reported on prospective new owners making a play for E Pike’s Comet Tavern. Meanwhile, there’s still not a set date, but Bauhaus should open in November in its two-block move following its last night at Melrose and Pine. Capitol Hill isn’t dead — it’s just being redeveloped.

A familiar player appears it will also be part of these changes in the Hill’s cultural fabric — in this case, the big red curtain at the Egyptian Theatre. CHS has learned that the “request for proposals” process to take over the Seattle Central Community College-owned asset has one lone bidder — the organization whose roots helped reshape the old social hall into a theater in the first place, SIFF.

A SCCC spokesperson tells CHS that Seattle International Film Festival organizers are the only entity participating in the somewhat restrictive bidding process that began late this summer.

According to the request documents, potential bidders were to be evaluated on a set of factors with the heaviest weighting given to “project approach” — including dedication to continuing film festivals at the venue, focus on arts and performance and an organizational ability to “operate a theater.” Other factors include “key staff,” organizational experience and financial feasibility of the plan. “The respondent will provide a compensation/payment package or plan that will reduce SCCC’s annual overhead and operational costs for the facilities,” one document states. Earlier, a school representative told CHS that the previous rent paid by the Landmark theater chain before it pulled out had been in the ballpark of $7,500 per month plus another $900 in taxes. Additionally, according to the request documents, the building has an annual utilities cost around $26,000.

Requirements also included a willingness to allow SIFF to continue to use the theater for its annual festival. “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,” a school statement read.

Bids were due in mid-September.

The college is seeking a standard initial lease period of 10 years, which may be extended in five-year increments. It was convening a panel including a community representative to evaluate bids.

“Seattle Central Community College has been a great steward of the building and the Festival since they purchased the property,” SIFF artistic director Carl Spence said in a statement this summer as Egytpian’s closure was announced. “We are hopeful that SIFF will be able to continue to host the Seattle International Film Festival at the Egyptian Theatre in the future.”

SIFF and the Egyptian share an extended back-story. Built in 1916, the former Masonic temple was bought by SIFF founders Darryl MacDonald and Dan Ireland in 1980. The duo were the first to transform it into the Egyptian-themed theater. After running it for nearly a decade, SIFF sold the theater to Landmark in 1989. SCCC bought the building two years later, keeping Landmark as its tenant.

In 2011, SIFF re-opened the Uptown Theater in Lower Queen Anne.

We have messages out to SIFF to find out more about its plans and when a deal is expected to be reached to put the 600-seat cinema back into motion. A SCCC spokesperson said there are no additional updates on the process that can be released at this time. 422630_386883348007999_381692854_n (1)

16 thoughts on “One (familiar) bidder for Capitol Hill’s Egyptian Theatre

  1. Will SIFF be putting any money in to the theater for any upgrades? Has the masonry on the Egyptian been reinforced yet?

  2. This put a big smile on my face. It would be amazing to have a SIFF theater on the Hill, considering how much time I spend at the Uptown now.

  3. Yes, great news. Although I’ll be curious what SIFF wants to do with it. As a single screen venue, it will be difficult to make the numbers pencil out. Hopefully they will get a permit to serve alcohol… maybe even snacks… as that would make it a destination.

    I just read that the city gave money ($80K, I think) for improvements to the Egyptian—new seats!!!!—as part of their capitol investement in the arts. Sweet!

      • It is $75,000. And how does that work? The Egyptian is owned by SCCC, which is the state. So the city is giving $75,000 to the state?

    • I am not in favor of this new concept of movie-going as exemplified by the Sundance Theatres (formerly the Metro) in the U District….reservations for a seat, alcohol, food service, etc. those are just not things I need to attend a movie…and the food/alcohol are bound to be distractions from focusing on the film being shown. I hope the Egyptian isn’t going down this path.

  4. If they change the name, I hope that the retro Starwarsesque Neon EGYPTIAN sign can go to MOHAI, or be exhibited in the lobby.

  5. Seeing how SIFF reopened the Uptown cinema I hope they can do the same for the Egyptian. Landmark seems to be a dying chain anyway.

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