Seattle's Teatro ZinZanni could be facing final curtain call

SEATTLE - A Seattle theater is hoping 2017 doesn’t bring their final curtain call.

The land that houses Teatro ZinZanni, 222 Mercer Street, is being sold by the Seattle Opera to make way for two mixed residential towers, according to plans filed with the city. The popular dinner theater is pleading with the potential buyers to stay until construction begins in order to find a space in Seattle for their historic, 110-year old wooden tent.

“It’s not easy to find in the middle of Seattle 20,000 square feet of open land in order to build something, especially a theater,” said Norm Langill, president and artistic director at Teatro ZinZanni. “We’d like to surf the change in Seattle and find a great new location. We just need time to do it.”

Langill said the theater’s current lease runs until March 15th. ZinZanni has been in several locations in Seattle over a 19-year span, staging more than 7,000 shows to roughly one million people, he said.

“It would be quite a disaster if we were to have to leave. We’d have to move the entire building, which is physically not possible,” he continued. “We’d have a huge impact on the neighborhood. We’re simply asking for an extension – to pay rent, and then leave as soon as the permitting process is done.”

Washington Holdings is the buyer currently under contract with the Seattle Opera to buy the land. Developers would like to build 350 residential units along with retail space split between one 8-story and one 16-story tower, according to plans filed with the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections.

“The purchase and sale agreement with the Opera stipulates that we would purchase the site free of all tenants,” said Maria Barrientos, the local developer, in an email. “Assuming we do close on the site, we would begin pre-development site work immediately, which requires us to have unobstructed access to the entire site.”

A number of local businesses and artists have signed a letter in support of the theater, from musician Ann Wilson of Heart to restaurateur Tom Douglas.

“Whenever another one of our arts colleagues is threatened or is in trouble, it’s a concern to all of us,” said Jeffrey Herrmann, managing directory at Seattle Repertory Theatre. “To not have them across the street I think would leave a big hole physically as well as sort of spiritually in the arts community.”

“Nobody wants to see a vacant lot for the next two or three years in the middle of the theater district,” continued Langill, “so we just say we will stay as long as we can and we will make a smooth transition.”

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