Today’s the day we’ll found out whether that last-second donor really will be able to preserve Center City’s Boyd Theater in something like it’s original form, or if redevelopment plans that would reuse the facade — and completely rebuild behind it — will proceed. Developer Neil Rodin and his client, iPic Pictures, are going before the Historical Commission today to make the case for the latter scenario.
The case hinges on whether the developers can prove that preserving the property would create a financial hardship for current owners.
To Friends of the Boyd and the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia, the presence of a legitimate buyer shows that iPic’s application doesn’t meet one of the three subtests for financial hardship – whether “the sale of the property is impracticable.”
“I think the standard is clear,” said Carolyn Boyce, executive director of the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia. “The offer on the table to purchase the Boyd is sufficient and the case should be closed.”
However, at the Hardship Committee hearing, iPic legal counsel Matthew McClure of the firm Ballad Spahr, argued that the anonymous benefactor’s offer didn’t change anything. The application, he said, should be judged on the larger question of whether there is a financially feasible adaptive reuse for the building. McClure said that the theater has had three owners since 2002, none of whom were able to redevelop the property. “A mere transfer of title does not eliminate the financial hardship, which is endemic to this property.”
A representative of the anonymous donor will be on hand for today’s meeting.