Seattle City Councilmember Lisa Herbold introduced an ordinance Monday that would extend the city’s temporary measure to spare the Showbox music hall from demolition.
Last August, the Seattle City Council fast-tracked an ordinance expanding the Pike Place Market Historical District to include the Showbox for 10 months, effectively giving the city control over the site where plans for a new apartment tower threaten to bulldoze the 80-year-old club. With the temporary expansion set to expire this summer, Herbold’s new amendment would extend those historical district boundaries for another six months, buying the city more time to find a permanent solution. A public hearing on the extension will be held June 4.
Lawyers for Roger Forbes, who owns the site, filed a lawsuit in September challenging the city’s move, though last month Crosscut reported that the city was working on a deal to halt the litigation for six months while jointly pursuing “a path to long-term preservation.” Among the options are finding a wealthy buyer for the building who would allow the Showbox to continue operating. However, any potential standstill agreement between the city and Forbes seems to be deteriorating, after Forbes’ attorney John Tondini told the Stranger that they plan to move forward with the legal proceedings and “do not see a standstill or settlement as near or likely.”
Those comments appeared to take Herbold by surprise. The council member issued a statement Monday accusing Forbes’ attorneys of “moving the bar” on the terms of the standstill negotiations by requiring “the identification of a buyer’s group and sources of funding” before signing the agreement.
“The intent of this agreement, as initiated by the representatives of the Showbox owner, was to create time for the specific purpose of identifying a stakeholders group, potential preservation options that might include purchase or a long-term lease and potential funding sources necessary to exercise the option,” Herbold said.
Meanwhile, efforts by several preservation groups to win the Showbox a historic landmark designation advance June 5 when the nomination gets a public hearing. However, a landmark designation alone cannot ensure the Showbox’s survival; it can only grant protections for physical elements of the building.
Last summer, the Seattle music community was shaken by news of Forbes’ proposed sale of the property to Canadian developer Onni Group, which planned to build a 44-story residential tower on the downtown site.