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Bid to save Showbox moves forward ahead of landmark hearing

The proposed extension of the Pike Place Historic District. (City of Seattle)

A Seattle City Council committee voted Tuesday to temporarily extend the Pike Place Historic District to include the Showbox Market for another six months.

The vote sends the measure to a full vote next Monday, as supporters of the iconic music venue continue to push for its preservation.

The Showbox was originally included as part of the Pike Place Historic District for a 10 month period back in 2018, after its owner, Roger Forbes, expressed plans to sell it to a developer. That developer would have demolished the building to construct a 44-story apartment building.

Forbes subsequently sued the city for $40 million in lost value. That $40 million claim was later dismissed by a judge, but the lawsuit itself is still scheduled to move forward. With efforts to pause the lawsuit stalled out, it could still end with the city paying out damages.

On Tuesday, supporters rallied to voice their support for the Showbox.

Showbox supporters rally as city considers future of venue

“If you ask musicians in this city what is the greatest theater, what is the best place to see music in this whole city, the vast majority would pick The Showbox,” said Shua Sanchez, a local guitarist. “It is really the gem of the music scene in Seattle.”

Shannon Wells has worked at The Showbox for 17 years.

“It’s part of what defines Seattle as a city of music,” Wells said. “I think it’s essential to the music ecosystem here and it would be a travesty to lose it.”

Next, the Landmark Preservation Board meets Wednesday afternoon to discuss whether it should designate the venue a city landmark. That said, landmark status isn’t the be-all end-all to this saga.

“Landmarking alone won’t save the Showbox — we need to find a preservation-minded buyer,” Historic Seattle’s Eugenia Woo told KIRO 7 TV.

Historic Seattle expressed a willingness to buy the venue from Forbes in May, offering to pause the landmark designation process in favor of negotiating a full purchase.

Seattle nonprofit offers to buy Showbox in effort to save venue

Forbes hasn’t directly responded to the offer, but his representatives have repeatedly noted that he would “consider any serious purchaser that offers fair market value for the property.” What exactly “fair market value” entails is unclear, but some have speculated that the $40 million number from Forbes’s lawsuit is a likely starting point.

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