Philadelphia, PA — Universal seeks OK to demolish most of Royal Theater

planphillyUniversal seeks OK to demolish most of Royal Theater
By Patrick Kerkstra, Projects reporter | Published by
Friday, May 31, 2013

In the affidavit, Universal Executive Vice President for Real Estate Tamelia Hinson states renovating the existing structure would cost $3.4 million, a sum deemed by the organization to be “economically unfeasible.”

There is little question that the building’s interior badly damaged. The theater – which was one of the city’s preeminent African-American cultural venues in its day – has run to ruin since its closing in 1970. Much of the damage was done before Universal took ownership, but neighbors say the building has only deteriorated further in the years since.

“The property was wrested away from the hands of a speculator who was a poor steward, and now over a decade later we have a similar situation with Universal,” said Marcus Iannozzi, President of the South Street West Business Association. “It’s a terrible irony that the person who was supposed to rescue the Royal wants to tear it down.”

Universal’s affidavit argues that the organization’s hands are tied, and that “maintaining this building in its current useless condition has become a hardship to Universal.” Those costs include landscaping expenses (for cutting down the vegetation growing on the roof), a $145,000 project in 2007 to stabilize the structure, and $40,000 in prospective repairs to shore up falling bricks on the east and west walls, a dangerous condition that has been cited by the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections.

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Many thanks to Howard Haas of Philadelphia for sharing this news.

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