Back in 2013 we told you about retail and apartments that could be coming to the Royal Theater at 1520-1536 South St. Since then, there hasn’t been much movement since plans were rejected in 2013 due to an incomplete application.
Now things could be moving forward with the Architectural Committee of the Philadelphia’s Historical Commission reviewing redevelopment plans from Universal Community Homes and Dranoff Properties to demolish the building and develop the property into 40 luxury residential units with 7,000 sq. ft. of commercial space and a parking garage with 20 spaces on Kater Street.
More on the plans from Hidden City:
Now, Universal is seeking to move forward with demolishing the theater for new development, while, under contract, preserving its iconic façade. “The Royal is a tough one, honestly. It’s in such a poor condition and is perhaps an indictment of the past 45 years of neglect more than anything else,” says Patrick Grossi, director of advocacy of the Preservation Alliance. “It also raises the important question of what is worth preserving, especially when it is not economically viable to do so. In a resource-strapped city I think everyone can appreciate an appeal to pragmatism, but historic assets are not solely economic assets, though they often contribute economic value.”
Grossi says that the current plan for the façade put forth by Universal and Dranoff does satisfy the Preservation Alliance’s easement and that the restoration would be faithful to Hahn’s original 1919 elevation. New wood transoms, arches, windows, a restoration and refinishing of the historic railing, and new metal doors are all included in Universal and Dranoff’s preservation plan for the façade.
Creeping up behind and flanking both sides of the theater’s north-facing front would be a five story luxury apartment building dressed in stone veneer and cementitious paneling, spandral glass, steel and aluminum trellises, and glass railing. A residential entryway and commercial space would be added to the east side of the original façade and a service entry added to the west side. Steel gates would wrap the entrance and exit to the basement garage on Kater Street.
If the Architectural Committee approves the plan, it will then have to be reviewed by the full Commission and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
Universal and Dranoff will be presenting the plans to the Philadelphia Historical Commission’s Architecture Committee on Tuesday, June 23rd.