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Seattle settles lawsuit with Showbox owner, leaves door open to save venue

(KIRO 7)

One battle over The Showbox in Seattle is officially over. But more struggles are ahead, as the property owner wishes to the sell the building, and Seattleites wish to preserve an iconic piece of local history.

The owner of the building (that is home to The Showbox) and the city of Seattle reached an agreement Tuesday. According to that agreement, the city will give $915,000 to the owner of 1426 First Avenue LLC to cover its attorney fees and other costs from a recent lawsuit.

“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,” said Aaron Pickus with 1426 First Avenue LLC. “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 – the owner has always been open to consider any serious purchaser that offers fair market-value.”

Why Seattle Councilmember Abel Pacheco voted against Showbox protections

Concern was raised in August 2018, when the building went up for sale. Tentative plans were for a company based in Vancouver, B.C. to purchase the property and develop it into a 44-story apartment tower.

The city previously attempted to “spot zone” The Showbox, expanding the Pike Place district around the property. The owner sued for lost revenue from the sale. That led to a judge knocking the city’s plan down in June, stating that the temporary historical district designation approved by the City Council — twice — was illegal and violated property owner Roger Forbes’ federal due process and equal protection rights.

With the issue of legal costs behind them, city officials are now hopeful that a buyer will step forward to buy the building — one that will cherish The Showbox and its place in history.

“The focus of this situation is now appropriately with the Landmarks Preservation Board,” City Attorney Pete Holmes said. “I weighed the likelihood of success appealing a case that is now largely superfluous against a potential judgment costing the City tens of millions of dollars. When presented with a resolution that costs us only a fraction of that potential judgment and that retains an option for a third-party organization like Historic Seattle to lead an effort to purchase the building in the event no landmark controls are imposed, this wasn’t a difficult decision to make.”

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