There was an interesting story in the Daily News on Monday about Kenny Gamble’s … let’s say, questionable … stewardship of the Royal Theater.
The music mogul-turned-nonprofit developer has sat on the building on the 1500 block of South Street since 2000, letting it crumble even after raking in millions in taxpayer dollars to fulfill his repeated promises to restore it. Rather than restore it, he wants to tear down all but the facade and put up retail and housing. That got us thinking.
Gamble and his Universal Companies are huge property owners in South Philly, mostly the west side of Broad but also many parcels on the east side just above Washington Avenue. If he’s letting a gem like the Royal rot, what about all the rest?
He has certainly done some good by way of low-income housing development, but the DN story says he also has owned two vacant lots across the street from the theater since 1990. Yes, he’s held let two vacant lots on a booming strip sit vacant for 23 years.
So, let me give you a topic. Is Kenny Gamble a well-meaning force for good? Or he is a greedy land speculator?