A shock has reverberated throughout the entire Seattle music community and beyond on the heels of a recently proposed redevelopment project that would transform the iconic venue into an apartment complex.
It’s no secret that Seattle is experiencing rapid growth both economically as well as in population. Progress itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Cities need to evolve in order to thrive, but at what expense? Losing a piece of our culture, our soul, our identity to fuel that progress? Surely we must maintain roots in order to grow. If we forget that past then what is the point of the future?
The Showbox has been a staple of Seattle entertainment since 1916 with it hosting musical events all the way back in 1939. It has undergone many iterations from a dance hall to a cabaret. It has catered to some of the greatest musical acts of our time across all genres. With its vintage art-deco style reminiscent of the era in which it was built, the Showbox has thrived among rapid downtown expansion seemingly untouched by time.
Until now that is. The very charm the Showbox has thrived with is being threatened and with it a way of life for all of us in the music industry and those who seek quality entertainment.
The Showbox market has been embroiled in a development nightmare since it was announced that the owner of the historic music venue was in talks to sell the land and the building to developers based out of Canada. Since the announcement, outrage has poured out from lovers of the music venue, musicians, and even the Seattle City Council who has been attempting to halt the sale of the venue. The battle between the Showbox owners and the city is ongoing, with lots of new details emerging regarding attempts to save the venue from demolition. Here is everything we know about the battle so far.
Lines Have Been Drawn
In an effort to save the Showbox Market location, the Seattle City Council halted the potential redevelopment of the venue by redesignating its location as part of the Pike Historical District. Currently, the boundaries do not extend past First Avenue which includes the Pike Brewing Company, but everything across the street from Pike’s Place Market and the Pike Brewing Company is not included in the historic district boundaries.
The boundaries now temporarily extend to the Showbox Market location for the next ten months. This will allow the City Council to investigate the redevelopment plans further before approving the sale or not.
Lawsuits Have Been Filed
The owner of the Showbox has filed a detailed lawsuit against the City of Seattle for several reasons. The lawsuit claims that the City Council singled out the Showbox in its plan to redesignate the Pike Historical District Boundaries. A lawyer representing the owner of the Showbox filed in his complaint that the City unlawfully changed the boundaries to halt the owners plans to sell to redevelopers in order to keep him from moving forward with the project, and thus infringing on his constitutional rights.
Also listed in the lawsuit, the owner of the Showbox claims that the venue had been passed over for landmark status several times in the past. Only now, they are interested in designating the venue as a landmark due to public pressure stemming from a collective outcry against the redevelopment plan.
Lawyers for the owner go on to say that the City Council is also infringing on the owner’s property rights by preventing him the opportunity to sell his land for a fair and reasonable price. So, the owner is suing the City of Seattle for $40 million in damages, the amount he claims the city has prevented him from making on the potential sale of the Showbox location.
A trial date has been set for January 28, 2019, and the historical boundaries which now include the Showbox are in place for the next ten months. What happens after the trial hearing and the boundary redesignation expires, only time will tell. But for now, the Showbox is safe from harm.
As a historic building, home to some iconic shows over the years, it isn’t just going to face the wrecking ball without considerable efforts to stop that from happening. It’s not the fact that the building will be gone, it’s the representation of that building that will always be missed. Music will never be the same without The Showbox Market, and the Seattle City Council, as well as music’s biggest stars, have spoken out.
We aren’t just losing a building or a piece of our culture. We are losing a place to make memories that will last a lifetime. Please save the Showbox, save our culture, and give others a place they can find themselves if ever they feel lost. Head over to Change.org to sign the petition to save this venue. Do your part to preserve a way of life for everyone. Together we can tell the owners of The Showbox that destroying a part of our music culture is not okay.