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Historic Seattle and Seattle Theatre Group step up with bid for The Showbox

Nonprofits Historic Seattle and Seattle Theatre Group, the operator of The Paramount, Moore, and Neptune Theatres, have made their bid to purchase downtown Seattle music venue The Showbox.

The groups announced their bid Tuesday night but did not disclose the dollar amount of the offer.

“We are thrilled to have such a strong partner as STG in our effort to purchase The Showbox,” Eugenia Woo, director of preservation services at Historic Seattle, said in an announcement of the effort. “As we continue our due diligence and look forward to the opportunity to negotiate with the property’s owner, Historic Seattle will not back down in our fight to protect The Showbox.”

In October, CHS reported on the city’s settlement of a lawsuit brought by property owner Roger Forbes after a push to save the Showbox championed by Mayor Jenny Durkan, and campaigned for by District 3 rep Kshama Sawant reportedly scuttled a $40 million deal with Canadian developer Onni Group to build a 44-story apartment building on the land. The city also agreed to end the city council’s temporary expansion of the Pike Place Historic District to protect the building.

This summer, the Showbox was also granted landmark status. Woo said in Tuesday’s announcement the partnership will advocate for landmarks controls to be placed on the building. The city’s lawsuit settlement, meanwhile, was contingent on the landmarks board placing no restrictions on changing the building. That would allow a full redevelopment if a preservation-minded buyer like the Historic Seattle partnership can’t strike a deal.

“Regarding any potential sale of 1426 First Avenue, the owner has and will always consider any purchaser that offers fair market-value for the property,” a spokesperson for the building owner said in a statement sent to media. “For example, the recent settlement agreement with the City of Seattle created an option to purchase the property for $41.4 million. This option has not yet been exercised by the City.”

If accepted, the partnership would retain AEG as the Showbox’s operating tenant through at least 2024, according to the announcement.

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7 thoughts on “Historic Seattle and Seattle Theatre Group step up with bid for The Showbox

  1. How many other buildings granted landmark status have had no restrictions placed on changing the building? Or is the Showbox getting special treatment?

    • did a little dive through municipal code. it’s straightforward, but your question is sort of complicated to answer.

      the entire process is discretionary to begin with. 25.12.750 is the list of criteria used by the preservation board to determine if an alteration requested by the owner should be approved; it essentially states that the primary factor should be how the alterations impact “the specific features or characteristics specified in the latest of” the preservation approval and related processes.

      so depending on what the LPB decides to consider historically significant is the key (they haven’t yet). code 25.12.350 lists these factors, and here’s where it gets sort of weird. they /could/ designate just the location itself as the site where a culturally significant Thing Happened, in which case the building itself is not protected at all, and this is not inconsistent with code. but most of the criteria (any of which can qualify the nomination) do have to do with architectural or visual concerns related to cultural significance.

      i did not review existing approvals because i couldn’t find any such archive with a quick search and.. i do have to get back to work at some point..

  2. Sell it to the Canadiens and let them build housing. And as a bonus, the city gets $5 million from the developer for affordable housing. Why is that a bad outcome?

  3. The SB owner is under no obligation to sell it to STG, etc. Most of the land on that first ave block is already sold for the project. The Tortoise hotel and property on the south side of the sb is sold too. The owner wanted to sell to the developer. Now he will as they can offer more. I can’t see how stg expects to buy. Then make enough revenues to pay their monthly’s. And Historic Seattle? No money there.

  4. Because, you know, the Showbox is /really/ historic. Out of the literally hundreds of theaters Seattle has had, why the effort for this one?

    Meanwhile, we have the oldest wood tugboat afloat in the entire world. Any trained historian would tell you that has far more historic value (and that the Showbox has none). What is the city doing to preserve this tugboat for the future? Not a single thing.

    • LOL nobody cares about your stupid tugboat- but a historic venue that has hosted Prince and Jimi Hendrix among others is worth preserving. You must be new.