After over a year of advocacy, Seattle’s downtown theater supporters saw their wish come true today. The Council approved legislation I sponsored to provide land use incentives to landmark performing arts theaters located dowtown – The Paramount, The Moore and The Eagles Auditorium (ACT Theatre). The legislation increases development capacity for these historic theaters, which in turn can be sold to developers.
Live performance theaters are one reason companies such as Frank Russell, Amazon and Weyerhaeuser decide to locate in downtown Seattle. Their employees want to live close to restaurants, close to entertainment, close to where the action is. The 2013 State of Downtown Economic Report published by the Downtown Seattle Association reports that our downtown historic theaters are among that neighborhood’s top draws, attracting almost half of downtown’s over 2,000,000 arts audience members.
In 2010, the Downtown Historic Theatre District contributed to cultural tourism by drawing 75% of its audience from outside Seattle while hosting over 1,000 performances, sustaining over 2,000 local arts jobs, and generating over $15 million in labor income. And, what makes this legislation particularly attractive is that by utilizing new development to preserve these beautiful old structures and the economic activity they generate, zero tax payer dollars are needed.
While the size and unique characteristics of the design and function of these large historic theaters present challenges for ongoing maintenance, the City does have an interest in supporting and promoting their continued operation. The legislation adopted today is part of a larger implementation plan that accompanied the City’s 2011 designation of the Downtown Historic Theatre District.
Today’s legislation is consistent with the Council’s past support for live theatre. In addition to the 2011 Historic Theatre District Resolution mentioned above, in 2009 I sponsored Resolution 30921, which established a week each October to be known and celebrated as Live Theatre Week in Seattle.
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