Historic Seattle, STG partner to try to buy Showbox

Two local groups have partnered together to help save the Showbox property near Pike Place Market.

The Seattle Theatre Group (STG) and Historic Seattle submitted a formal offer in October to buy The Showbox. STG operates The Paramount, Moore and Neptune theaters.

If the purchase is approved, the partnership would retain AEG as the operating tenant through at least 2024.

Comments can be submitted in person at the Landmarks Preservation Board meeting on Dec. 18.
"We are thrilled to have such a strong partner as STG in our effort to purchase The Showbox," said Eugenia Woo, director of preservation services at Historic Seattle. "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. Landmarks deserve protection."

Last month, the city of Seattle and owners of The Showbox property reached a settlement over a lawsuit that created an option to save the music venue in its current form. The cost for a third party to buy it was $41.4 million. The owners of the property sued after the Seattle City Council temporarily extended the Pike Place Market Historical District boundaries to include The Showbox property.

“Our settlement with the City of Seattle allows for a return to a consistent and fair application of the city's regulations governing 1426 First Avenue,” ownership group spokesman Aaron Pickus said in a statement at the time. "We are also pleased that our settlement with the City of Seattle includes a contingent option for a third-party allied with the City to potentially purchase the property for $41.4 million."

Historic preservation is not solely about protecting a physical building, preservation advocates said.

“It's about preserving the nature of what happens within it," said Ricardo Frazer, STG’s board chair. "That is why we are compelled to stand beside Historic Seattle in this effort. In an era when the redevelopment of cultural space is far too common, we fear what the loss of this iconic venue would mean to our region. Securing controls will protect the space, while our purchase and partnership will ensure it continues to be used for live performances, not only honoring its history but guaranteeing its role in our community for future generations.”

In July 2019, The Showbox was granted landmark status after a month's-long battle.

The theater was created in 1939 as The Show Box and has seen concerts from artists including Duke Ellington, Muddy Waters, the Ramones, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Macklemore and Ellen DeGeneres.

But it has not always been a concert venue. The space -- which survived a partial demolition in 1958 -- also was the Happening Teenage Nite Club in the 1960s and the Talmud Torah Hebrew Academy Bingo Hall in the 1970s, among other uses.

In 1975, the space also hosted Super Star Championship Wrestling, which packed in 1,100 fans -- a modest draw for a sport that brought thousands of spectators in the 1950s, ‘60s and 70s.

Previous coverage of The Showbox:

Developers file plans to build 44-story tower on Showbox site - July 25, 2018

Grassroots effort to save Showbox Theater grows, seeks landmark status - July 30, 2018

Sawant and Historic Seattle lay out plans to try to save the Showbox - August 1, 2018

Effort to save Showbox gains momentum - August 9, 2018

Seattle council votes on plan to preserve the Showbox - August 13, 2018

Developer may abandon Showbox redevelopment - August 14, 2018

Owner of Showbox suing City of Seattle in response to efforts to save music venue - September 7, 2018

Report: Seattle officials, Showbox owner close to agreement on legal extension - April 30, 2018

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