A Letter from Teatro ZinZanni

Dear Friends,

I’m writing to share with you the latest news about our efforts to transition from our current home at 222 Mercer St. Your overwhelming support has meant the world to us and has fueled our team’s look to the future.

In recent weeks, we have been exploring options to extend our lease on this site to ensure a smooth transition both logistically and financially for our company. A few days ago, Washington Holdings—the developer buying 222 Mercer from current owner Seattle Opera—agreed to pay Seattle Opera $8 million, half the site’s purchase price, to briefly extend the closing of the sale.

Under Washington Holding’s proposal, the Opera would continue to serve as Teatro ZinZanni’s landlord at the location through June—allowing us to mount a final Mercer Street production that would then transfer to a temporary home and allow us to retain staff and generate revenue – essential elements in facilitating a successful transition.

We learned this week that Seattle Opera refused the offer.

We are obviously disappointed in Seattle Opera’s decision, as it jeopardizes the jobs of 106 Teatro ZinZanni staff members—performers to cooks, designers to ticket-sellers. These people are our family. Furthermore, it creates a more perilous situation for our company as we look to secure plans for the future.

We are extremely gratified, however, at the overwhelming show of support from literally thousands of people in our community.

Washington Holdings made its offer because they heard from you. By the thousands, you shared your memories of what evenings at Teatro ZinZanni mean to you and your loved ones. Thank you. And we say thank you as well to Washington Holdings CEO Craig Wrench.

We also thank the dedicated supporters who’ve rallied alongside Teatro ZinZanni: Pearl Jam, Ann Wilson, Janie Hendrix, Tom Douglas, Harriet Bullitt, state legislator Gael Tarleton, and so many leaders of our fellow arts organizations.

We’ve anticipated this transition for several years. Indeed, we’ve supported the Opera’s project vigorously—even testifying in front of the Seattle City Council in support of the Opera receiving $5 million in City funding for it.

It is important for you to know how hard our team has been working to find a new home for Teatro ZinZanni over the past two years—from making a purchase offer for 222 Mercer, to searching for new locations that could accommodate our unique needs when the Opera accepted an off-market offer. In fact, over the last 24-months:

  • We presented the Seattle Opera with an offer to purchase for 222 Mercer Street, at fair market value at the time of the offer, with a vision of developing a mixed-use project to include Teatro ZinZanni. Unfortunately, the Seattle Opera would not provide a counter-offer or engage us in material negotiations.
  • We’ve surveyed several hundred sites within Seattle and the surrounding area. We identified 12 potential locations that fulfilled our criteria for relocation, but ultimately proved not feasible upon further exploration.
  • We explored ideas with real estate industry leaders including Vulcan, Amazon, Daniels Real Estate, Clise Properties, Urban Visions, American Life, Eagle Rock Ventures, Ewing & Clark, Real Retail, Alliance for Pioneer Square, Friends of the Waterfront, and many others.
  • We’ve had substantial talks with the Seattle Center and the City of Seattle’s Real Estate Services office to evaluate potential surplus properties.

Teatro ZinZanni continues to work on promising options to secure both temporary and future locations. At present, we are pursuing long-term lease negotiations for an exciting new site; as you know, however, Seattle is a hyper-competitive real estate market, and this location has an unsolicited purchase offer on it from another buyer.

Without the extension of a few more months from the Opera, our transition is more difficult. We’ll mount our final show at 222 Mercer on Sunday, March 5.

The next several months will not be easy, but those who have followed Teatro ZinZanni over the years know that we will work to ensure that we will not give up on finding a permanent home in the region where our company was founded over 18 years ago.
You’ve made Teatro ZinZanni a beloved Seattle institution. You helped us make 2016 a record-setting year.

We’re continuing our rigorous pursuit of new space in Seattle. For our staff. For the city. For you.

Thank you for your ongoing support of “Love, Chaos, & Dinner.” We’ll be in touch.