Board to consider action that could save Showbox music venue from redevelopment

SEATTLE -- The city's Landmarks and Preservation Board is set to vote today on a measure that could save the famed Showbox music venue in downtown Seattle from being demolished.

Developers have been working to use the property for a high-rise, 44-unit apartment building with a retail space, but after much public outcry, the City Council passed an ordinance last year temporarily expanding the Pike Place Market Historical District to include the Showbox.

That move protected the venue for 10 months -- and also sparked a lawsuit against the city. Today, the board will consider a permanent boundary expansion, which could determine whether the Showbox will be torn down.

The building's owner, Roger Forbes, is seeking $40 million in damages and claims the city failed to follow proper protocol when it made the temporary historical designation in July.

That lawsuit is still pending, and a recent statement from the building's owner shows the sentiment has not changed.

"The ordinance adopted by the City Council in August 2018 is clearly in violation of State law," said 1426 First Avenue ownership spokesperson Aaron Pickus. "The City has had many opportunities over the past several decades to apply landmark protections to 1426 First Avenue, but following extensive expert analysis has consistently decided against doing so until the sudden political action by the City Council in August 2018."

The Showbox has played host to countless big name acts since it opened in 1939, including Duke Ellington, the Ramones, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Prince and Lady Gaga.

A tour manager for Arizona, a band that played the Showbox this week, is one of hundreds of people who say they'd be sad to see it go.

"The acoustics are incredible, where the bass sits, where the treble sits, where the mid sits ... all that stuff and you end up getting this mix that just kind of hugs you, and it makes you feel warm, you know what I mean? Nothing abrasive, nothing harsh -- and that's what you get here," he said.