Preserving the Showbox Theater

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Friends and fellow activists,

I have heard from many of you who are outraged to learn that a real estate developer intends to replace Seattle’s historic Showbox theater with a high-rise apartment building. This is yet another example of how development and construction decisions in Seattle are being driven primarily by whatever will make the quickest dollar for the largest for-profit developers, with little regard for the needs and desires of the rest of us.

Often it is affordable housing that we see demolished to make way for new luxury buildings that only the wealthy get to live in. In this case, it is a landmark of Seattle’s history and music that is on the chopping block. In both cases, Seattle is more and more becoming a playground for the rich, with little space for working people and for the culture that makes Seattle so unique.

Big developers have immense power in Washington state, but one possible point of leverage are Seattle’s landmark preservation laws. Because the Showbox has so much historic value, the Landmarks Preservation Board should agree to landmark it if they hear from a large enough community of people. However, the board often preserves only the outside of buildings, and in this case we need the Board to also preserve the music venue inside.

Anyone can nominate the Showbox to be a landmark by filling out this form. Please feel free to call my office at 206-684-8016 if you need any assistance. However, the nominations are only one step, and will most likely not be enough. We will need to continue to organize and speak out to make it clear that the Showbox theater should not only be preserved on the outside, but also be maintained as a music venue.

In fact, the Onni Group, the corporation threatening the Showbox, has indicated they plan to nominate the building to the Landmarks Preservation Board. As a mega development corporation, Onni will no doubt hope that the Board will decide not to preserve any part of the building that will conflict with their multi-million-dollar development plans. We obviously hope, on the other hand, that Board will not just preserve the facade, but enable Seattle’s music community to continue to function at the venue. There are undoubtedly other locations where upscale apartments could be built, although what our city really needs is affordable housing.

I am forwarding all the emails I have received from you in support of the Showbox to the Landmarks Preservation Board, and they have assured my office that they will include them in the public comment on this issue. I also urge you to contact the preservation board directly by emailing

Last but not least, my office is also preparing a City Council resolution urging the Landmarks Preservation Board to preserve the Showbox inside and outside. Such a resolution, if it passes, will be a clear position by the Seattle City Council that the City wants the Showbox to be preserved. Most importantly, however, we will not win without your public voice to ensure that this resolution passes.

Thank you for speaking out to preserve this part of Seattle’s musical and cultural heritage.