Seattle’s Showbox music hall, which opened in 1939, has hosted big acts through the jazz age, the grunge era, and today’s pop and rock. Their wide-ranging roster counts Duke Ellington, the Ramones, Blondie, Pearl Jam, Snoop Dogg, Wilco, Billy Idol, Dead Kennedys, and Kanye West. But under a recently proposed city plan, the iconic venue would be demolished and replaced with a $100 million apartment high-rise. According to the Seattle Times, a Vancouver-based developer called Onni Group filed plans this week to build a 440-foot, 442-unit apartment tower, plus ground-level retail and 88 parking spaces.
Onni Group confirmed that their potential project involves tearing down other buildings on site, including Showbox, a pub, and a few storefronts. The Seattle Times reports, “The project has been in the works since at least May, when architect Perkins + Will filed a vague site plan for a project it called ‘Onni Showbox.'” If the project comes to fruition, it could take years to complete. There will soon be public meetings to discuss the plan. Seattle’s housing market is currently the hottest in the country, and the subsequent real estate and population boom is transforming the city.
Seattle indie rock mainstays Death Cab For Cutie — who have performed at Showbox numerous times — comment on their changing city in a recent single called “Gold Rush” from their forthcoming album Thank You For Today. “Digging for gold in my neighborhood / For what they say is the greater good,” frontman Ben Gibbard sings. “But all I see is a long goodbye / A requiem for a skyline.” Listen to “Gold Rush” and see some footage of Death Cab playing at Showbox below.
UPDATE: Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie, Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, Duff McKagan of Guns N’ Roses, and Macklemore are working with public development authority Historic Seattle to save the Showbox. “Together, we can save this iconic place, which continues to have an indelible impact on our city and artists from here and around the country,” they write in a letter that appeared in the Seattle Times today, encouraging people to contact Seattle’s City Council and Mayor Jenny Durkan. Sleater-Kinney, Run The Jewels, Dave Grohl, Neko Case, the xx, Fleet Foxes, the War On Drugs, Grizzly Bear, also signed the letter.
Some amazing friends of ours helped us pull together this morning’s Seattle Times centerfold… . Their voices may be famous, but yours is just as important in the fight to #SAVETHESHOWBOX. . Call or write the Mayor and City Council about Monday’s vote, in support of expanding the Pike Place Market Historic District. (See link in bio for ideas on what to say!) . Work with us on the landmarking process. . Get to know more about how historic places like this can be saved, and help us fight for them. . #wegotthis #seattle
UPDATE: At Monday’s Seattle city council meeting, the council voted to expand the proposed Pike Place Historical District to include the Showbox theatre for ten months. According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, this vote temporarily prevents previous plans to knock it down. Community members are working to solidify the Showbox’s place with efforts to designate it as a historical landmark.
— Kim Seattle (@KimSeattle1) August 13, 2018