Showbox supporters received bad news Friday when a King County Superior Court judge nullified an ordinance staving off redevelopment of the longtime music venue.
Judge Patrick Oishi struck down a Seattle City Council measure expanding the boundary of the Pike Place Market Historical District to include the downtown club. Oishi ruled that the city violated due process with the fast-tracked ordinance designed to temporarily block a planned residential tower.
Lawyers representing Showbox ownership sought a summary judgment to overturn the measure, pointing out that the city had upzoned the area for development in 2006 and again in 2017.
“We thank Judge Oishi for his ruling today that the City Council’s ordinance concerning 1426 First Avenue is illegal and void,” said Aaron Pickus, a spokesperson for the Showbox ownership, which includes strip club owner Roger Forbes. “The owners of 1426 First Avenue will now consider next steps concerning the use of this property and will also continue to engage with the Landmark Preservation Board during their review process.”
A spokesperson for the Seattle City Attorney’s Office, which sought the dismissal of Forbes’ lawsuit, said in a statement: “We’re evaluating our options and need to confer with our clients before determining what’s next.”
Initially passed last August, the temporary expansion of the historical district to include the Showbox gave the Pike Place Market Historical Commission authority over proposed physical changes to the building as well as its use. The move was intended to buy time to find a long-term solution and allow the Department of Neighborhoods to study whether to make the expansion permanent. After budget issues delayed the start of the study, the council voted earlier this month to extend the temporary protection by another six months. But that extension, championed by Councilmember Lisa Herbold, is now void.
Last year, the Seattle music community was shaken by news that Canadian developer Onni Group planned to acquire the beloved venue and build a 44-story residential tower in its place. A Change.org petition in support of designating the Showbox a historic landmark quickly went viral, racking up more than 119,000 signatures to date.
Meanwhile, the Landmark Preservation Board is expected to vote next month on whether the music hall operated by international promoter AEG Presents should receive landmark designation. Regardless, landmark status alone would not guarantee the building’s protection or the Showbox’s continued operation. Historic Seattle, one of the preservation groups leading the landmark push, made a preliminary offer to acquire the venue in exchange for halting the landmark process, although those talks seem to be stalled.