Demolition Announced for Beloved Seattle Venue The Showbox

Music News
photo by Matthew B. Thompson

UPDATE 7/31: 

While the Onni Group has sent a preliminary notification to the city, no building permits have been issued or decisions made.

Concerned citizens are exploring the possibility of acquiring landmark status for the nearly-80-year old building. The Showbox is not currently a protected building, but it does fit many of the requirements for preservation. Acquiring landmark status is a lengthy process, and will require at least four different public votes, giving the public plenty of time to try to petition the city to save the theater.

Just yesterday, Seattle venue The Showbox celebrated its 79th birthday. And today we've learned via the Daily Journal of Commerce that "Vancouver, B.C.-based Onni Group has filed plans to build a 44-story tower with 442 residential units on the Showbox property, at 1412 First Ave." 

In addition to the residential units, commercial space is planned and underground parking on five levels. 

While its true that our city is changing at a rapid pace, this change would be a huge loss for our music community. Since 1939, The Showbox has hosted live music, under various venue names. KIRO News reports that back when it was first built, its proprietor declared it the "Palace of the Pacific," an ambitious post-depression era project, as reflected in its Art Deco style interior. Based on its rich history, an online petition has been launched to have The Showbox declared a historical landmark.

It's impossible to list the many shows we've all attended there. Most notably for us, The Showbox has hosted the annual SMooCH (Seattle Musicians for Children's Hospital) concert, co-hosted by KEXP and Sub Pop, featuring artists like Father John Misty, Macklemore, Phantogram, Built to Spill, and so many others donating their time in benefit of Seattle Children's Hospital.

A timeline has yet to be announced for the project. We'll update as we learn more. Until then, check out some photos below, taken over the years by KEXP's talented volunteer photography team.

SMooCH Benefit for Children's Hospital, 2013 // photo by Morgen Schuler


Dr. Dog, 2015 // photo by Matthew B. Thompson


The xx, 2012 // photo by Dave Lichterman


Julian Casablancas + The Voidz, 2014 // photo by Dave Lichterman


Desaparecidos, 2012 // photo by Bebe Labree Besch


Backstage at SMooCH 2013 // photo by Dave Lichterman


Macklemore + Ryan Lewis 2011 // photo by Jim Bennett


SMooCH 2013 // photo by Morgen Schuler