A Network of Stakeholders
This is a complex issue with many stakeholders…
The following is a breakdown of the stakeholders involved. For effective advocacy, we must know who has power and understand how we are connected. Who owns the Showbox? Roger Forbes owns the land and building. Onni Group, a Canadian developer, is in contract with Forbes to buy it. The Showbox music venue business is owned by AEG Presents, who leases the building from Forbes.
The City of Seattle has legal jurisdiction over zoning and construction permitting. The City Council passed an ordinance in August 2018 to temporarily extend the boundary of the Pike Place Market Historic District to include the Showbox, which sits directly across the street from the Market.
The ordinance expires in July 2019. The Mayor’s Office is responsible for proposing recommendations to City Council on permanently extending the Historic District Boundary. The Department of Neighborhoods (DON) and the Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) will conduct studies and outreach. As of May 8, 2019, DON and SDCI have not completed their work. City Council has proposed a 6-month extension of the ordinance. June 4th marks the committee meeting to discuss the extension, with a full council vote on June 10.
Contacts for city government are linked through our Take Action page.
Historic Preservation is a complex process and does not always guarantee a beloved building will be saved. The Historic Landmark Preservation Board is part of the Dept. of Neighborhoods. The Board reviews nominations in a public hearing and votes on whether to nominate as a landmark. If yes, there is a second hearing on whether to designate the site as a landmark. If yes, the city enters into negotiations with the building’s owner, a process called controls and incentives. Landmark legislation then moves to a City Council vote. Landmark status does not preserve the use of the building and often does not save the building itself if the owner claims they will be economically harmed by Landmark designation.
In the Showbox case, Historic Seattle, Friends of Historic Belltown, and Vanishing Seattle jointly submitted a nomination application for Historic Landmark designation for cultural significance and interior architectural significance. We await the hearing date in 2019. Contrary to some inaccurate news reports, the Showbox has not previously been denied Landmark status and is fully eligible to be nominated.
The Pike Place Market Historic District is a separate distinction and is the strongest approach to preserving the use of the space as a music venue. If the Showbox becomes part of the Historic District permanently, all changes of structure and use will have to be approved by the Pike Place Market Historic Commission. The temporary ordinance was passed before Onni Group submitted any permits for redevelopment. Until the ordinance expires, all permitting must be approved by the Commission.
On June 5th, the Landmarks Preservation Board unanimously voted to nominate the Showbox as an historic landmark. The final vote on designation has been set for July 15th, time tbd, at City Hall, Bertha Knight Landes Room.
Learn more about Seattle’s Historic Landmark process here.
Learn more about the Pike Place Market Historic District here.
The Showbox community is large and vocal. The outpouring of love for the Showbox and the outrage over its possible demolition are the ONLY reasons we have temporarily stopped the redevelopment. Currently, over 118,000 people have signed a petition to preserve the historic Showbox theater. Hundreds of people have shown up to City Council hearings to protest demolition and demand that we Save Our Showbox!
Visit our community page to learn more.