Update: Erica Barnett at The C is for Crank has a rundown of what Councilmember Sawant’s proposed ordinance would do (putting severe restrictions on a lot more property than the Showbox) and rapid timeline for approval.
The movement to save the Showbox has grown quickly, and attracted some wanting an opportunity to proverbially punch a developer in the face, or to stop more housing from being built, for which the Showbox has provided a convenient excuse.
There is no actual item related to the Showbox on today’s 2:00 City Council Agenda yet. There are, however, ordinances proposed by Councilmember Mike O’Brien on the introductions calendar to get all for-profit employers with over 20 employees in the City to offer pre-tax commuter benefits beyond car-cost reimbursements, and to provide guiding principles on reorganizing the Move Seattle
Much of today’s affordable housing was once someone’s “luxury housing”. Some of the largest shelters downtown, such as the Morrison Hotel and the Bus(c)h Motel were once state-of-the-art luxury housing. The apartment complex where I live looks very much like it was once a hotel. A lot of the “naturally affordable housing” targeted for purchase by the City is older single-family homes. In short, there is a lot of truth to the adage that today’s luxury housing is tomorrow’s affordable housing.
The Showbox is a victim, not of crass developer capitalism, but of our failure to recognize the housing supply problem before it became a crisis. Josh Feit has a lot more to say on the topic, over at The C Is For Crank. I would just add that having a performance space of similar quality to the Showbox can happen on-site, most likely on the top floor. Lift the height limit in exchange for building such a performance space, and more income-limited units. Then, everyone should be happy except the historic preservationists, housing opponents, and height opponents.