In a transaction that had been in works for some time, the Seattle Opera sold the Teatro ZinZanni theatre at 222 Mercer St. in Seattle for $16.2 million to developer and investor, Washington Holdings. The Seattle Opera had previously announced it would be selling that property at the end of May in order to fund a new state-of-the-art building it will call home.
Teatro ZinZanni had been leasing the property from the Seattle Opera for the past 10 years. The group held their final performance at that location on March 5th of this year. While they haven’t found a new location to call home, the group said on their website that they hope to make an announcement soon about the future of the theatre.
Seattle Opera in a statement said 100 percent of the sale proceeds will go towards the opera’s new building. The opera said the lease for the administrative building it has leased in South Lake Union has an end date in 2018, and the sale of the property where Teatro ZinZanni once sat is crucial towards a new space at the site of the Mercer Arena, according to the statement. Construction on the new building has to start now, or the opera risks the ability to rehearse for their performances at McCaw Hall.
The Seattle Opera said that Teatro ZinZanni made an offer to purchase the property, but it was not enough for the opera to be able to build a new theatre elsewhere. “We would have loved to be able to sell the parcel to Teatro ZinZanni, but what they offered was just over half of what the site is under contract to be sold for,” the opera said in a statement.
According to the opera, it had already extended the lease to Teatro ZinZanni from January 31st to March 15th. The group also mentioned that the property at 222 Mercer St. was gifted to them with the intention that the opera would build on the site or sell the parcel to pay for a new home, something which the theatre knew when signing a lease, according to the opera. The theatre was also given the chance to purchase the property at fair market value in April 2015 but was unable to do so.
With the Mercer Street sale, the opera now has the proper means to fund their new building. The opera is relocating to their new project, Seattle Opera at the Center, located just next door to McCaw Hall. The site has already entered the demolition phase where the former Mercer Arena was. With this new space, the opera will be able to serve more people through education and community engagement programs, create a world-class, purpose-built facility and establish a welcoming community resource on the Seattle Center campus. The building will be a new, four-story structure with 100,000 square feet of space, which NBBJ is designing.
The nearly 44,000 square foot theatre has already been demolished, and the new owners aren’t wasting any time in building up the property. Plans for the site have been submitted to the city and will undergo their first round of early design guidance this week.
The fate of the old Teatro ZinZanni site now sits in the hands of Washington Holdings, which is working with Seattle development group Barrientos + Ryan, along with GGLO and Hewitt. The proposed plans for the 297,377 square foot development include approximately 250 residential units and almost 9,000 square feet of retail space. Plans also include parking for roughly 187 vehicles. The city will hear more about those plans at a Wednesday night meeting.