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Historic Seattle, Theater Group Make Offer To Buy Showbox

The interior of the 80-year-old Showbox venue that seats approximately 1,100. It is one of a few music venues in Seattle that can accommodate midsized audiences.

The Seattle Theater Group has teamed up with Historic Seattle in a partnership to buy the iconic Showbox theater.

The Showbox’s owner, Roger Forbes, sued the city of Seattle after Canadian developer Onni Group backed out of plans to build a 44-story, $100M 442-unit mixed-use residential and commercial high-rise on the site. That deal fell apart after the city passed an ordinance that placed the music venue, located at 1426 First Ave., in the Pike Place Market Historical District, effectively blocking the sale to Onni.

Now, the new partners say they have made an offer to buy the 80-year-old building in October for an undisclosed amount. Seattle Theater Group owns The Paramount, Moore and Neptune theaters. 

If the offer is accepted, AEG would remain the operating tenant through at least 2024. The property was designated a landmark this summer by the Landmarks Preservation Board. The unanimous decision was based on its significant contribution to the cultural heritage of the city and its distinctive exterior and interior qualities.

This summer, Historic Seattle estimated it would need to raise $40M to purchase the building at fair-market value. According to public records, its 2019 assessed tax value is $12.3M.

After the Onni deal went south, the city reached a settlement to pay Forbes' $915K in legal fees and other costs. In exchange, Forbes would give the city the option to purchase the Showbox property and name for $41.4M. The city has not operated that right.