SEATTLE -- Fans of The Showbox in Downtown Seattle won a major victory Wednesday night in the battle to save the local icon.
Seattle’s Landmark Preservation Board held a hearing, and all seven board members voted to designate The Showbox as a historical landmark.
The future of the building was in limbo after a developer bought the building and announced plans to put an apartment building there instead, but residents came out in droves to save the music venue.
“Over the moon, I feel so good right now so happy this has been a year,” said Shannon Wells, who says she worked to preserve the building. “We worked really hard for a year on this, and it feels really gratifying that they heard us. I’m also just really grateful for the turnout and for people showing up we’ve been pushing and striving and constantly. It’s a lot of energy to tell people over and over ‘we still need you,’ but also really inspiring when people heed that call and show up and testify time and time again.”
Last year, the Seattle music community was shaken by news that a developer planned to acquire the venue and build a 44-story residential tower with retail space.
The city council passed an ordinance last year temporarily expanding the Pike Place Market Historical District to include The Showbox, and that move protected the venue for 10 months and sparked a lawsuit against the city by the building’s owner - who sought $40 million in damages
People even started a change.org petition, and it quickly went viral, racking up more than 119,000 signatures. And just last month, a King County Superior Court judge nullified the city ordinance.
“I think the city has recognized that music is very important to the cultural identity of Seattle, and I’m hopeful that we will get to keep The Showbox,” Earnie Ashwood said. “So we’ll see how the negotiations play out, but tonight we celebrate.”
A spokesperson for the building’s owners released a statement tonight, saying in part:
“We respect the work of the Landmark Preservation Board to designate the property as a landmark but disagree with both the reasoning and the decision itself. We will further evaluate their designation as we consider next steps.”
The venue turns 80 years old next week, and a group called Historic Seattle tweeted out they are hoping to purchase the property themselves.