The Showbox is shown on Tuesday, August 14, 2018, on First Avenue in Seattle.
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The Showbox is shown on Tuesday, August 14, 2018, on First Avenue in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Seattle settles Showbox lawsuit, but theater's fate still uncertain

The city of Seattle’s battle with the owner of the Showbox theater property appears to be over for now — with an agreement that would allow redevelopment of the site.

The city said Tuesday that it had settled a lawsuit over the property for $915,000.

The owners, called 1426 First Avenue LLC, wanted to sell the property for redevelopment. But a popular movement to “Save the Showbox” sprang up, and the city put restrictions on the property by extending the boundaries of the Pike Place Market Historical District.

The owners then sued for more than $40 million. They argued that the building hasn’t always been a music venue and has had a number of alterations over its 80 years.

The city said the deal will pay the owners $915,000 and allow a third party to buy the property and rights to the “Showbox” name for $41.4 million.

But the draft agreement says the Landmarks Preservation Board must act by Dec. 18 to recommend to the City Council that no controls be placed on the property.

And the current owners retain an option for redevelopment.

“The focus of this situation is now appropriately with the Landmarks Preservation Board,” Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes said in a statement.

A third party isn’t named in the agreement. But last year a Vancouver, B.C.- based developer called Onni Group filed plans to build an apartment tower on the First Avenue site.


Here’s the full statement from Holmes:

“The focus of this situation is now appropriately with the Landmarks Preservation Board. 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.”

And here’s a statement from Aaron Pickus, spokesman for 1426 First Avenue LLC:

“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. 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.”

You can read the draft agreement here: