Boyd Theater’s Fate May (Finally! Really!) Be Decided Today

Historical Commission to hear the case for redeveloping abandoned movie theater.

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.

Hidden City Philadelphia reports:

 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.


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  • Wilson

    “…we’ll found out…” Really? Is anyone paying attention?

    • RichHeimlich

      Some of us are.

  • RichHeimlich

    Friends of the Boyd members fight a very noble cause. However, I have serious questions about the head of the organization. I’ve been interviewing people around issue and that experience raises many questions:

    1. Mr. Haas has claimed many times (in print) that the main reason he needs donations is to continue to provide ongoing overnight security at the Boyd. The public tax records for FoB claims substantial expenditures for this even through 2013. Now, the first curious thing about this is, how can he provide security for a building he does not own? Imagine someone hiring security for your own house. Second, why is it that I can’t find anyone who has ever seen security personnel at that location? Not the neighbors, not movie industry people (I’m a local movie critic), etc. I live nearby and pass by that building at all hours. Security would stick out in that spot, but I’ve never seen such resources there either. When I asked who the security company was that he used, he couldn’t answer the question. He tried to change the subject several times and then demanded that Odom turn off the camera. Odom then pressed the matter and Mr. Haas stammered for several moments before finally saying, “It’s a …… national company.” How can he not know who the company is that he claims to have spent so much on?

    2. Mr. Haas claimed in a joint interview we gave to Vernon Odom on Action News in front of the Boyd that he removed vintage, irreplaceable artifacts from the building (projectors, stage lighting, etc.). Who gave him permission to do this? Again, he doesn’t own the building? Can he provide proof of this authorization? Where are these items? Will they be returned to the owners? He claimed he took them to preserve them.

    3. People have come forward to tell me that Mr. Haas contacted them over the years to sell the above items. Who gave him permission to sell these items? What items sold, and for how much? Where are these records? Why did he try to sell items he, himself, claims need preserving?

    4. Who is this mysterious “buyer” that Mr. Haas claimed would buy the Boyd and, in our interview, told us on camera that he would identify (but didn’t) the following day at the Historical Commission meeting? Why didn’t this buyer simply submit an offer to purchase the building to Live Nation?

    There are many more similar questions that deserve answers. People behind the effort to save the Boyd Theater are passionate people with good intentions. I’m concerned that, perhaps, they are not asking the most obvious questions because they assume everyone involved has the same motivations.