Seattle is conceding on an important legal battle in the campaign to save the city’s Showbox music venue championed by Mayor Jenny Durkan, campaigned for by District 3 rep Kshama Sawant, and fought for by groups like Historic Seattle.
In the deal announced this week by the Seattle City Attorney, the city will pay the Showbox property’s owner Roger Forbes $915,000 to cover attorney fees and both sides agreed to move forward with a King County Superior Court Judge issuing his final ruling after quashing the city council’s temporary expansion of the Pike Place Historic District to protect the building and stop a planned sale.
The agreement will end a potential $40 million lawsuit against the city over a scuttled deal with Canadian developer Onni Group to build a 44-story apartment building after demolition of the Showbox.
The two sides also agreed to let Seattle take the lead on finding a new buyer for the building — presumably one would work with City Hall to preserve the venue. Under the agreement, the city has six months to reach a deal with a new buyer.
The deal also has a challenging contingency. This summer, the Showbox was granted landmark status. This week’s agreement for a Seattle-led sales process is contingent on the landmarks board placing no restrictions on changing the building allowing a full redevelopment if a preservation-minded buyer can’t strike a deal.
One potential buyer said in the wake of the agreement that they are still interested in getting a deal done.
“We are continuing to fight for controls on the building’s physical elements that were designated by a unanimous vote of the Landmarks Preservation Board,” the nonprofit dedicated to historical preservation in the city said in a statement.” Furthermore, this agreement between the City and the owner of The Showbox does NOT prevent us from moving forward with our offer to purchase the property. For months, we have been doing our due diligence – including appraisals of the property’s value – and hope to be able to announce our plan soon.”
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