Earlier this year, after Kenny Gamble’s Universal Companies put the crumbling Royal Theater on South Street up for sale, real estate agent and developer Ori Feibush made a bid for the derelict hulk, meeting the asking price of $3.2 million. Given the extent of the repairs that need to be made to stabilize, let alone rebuild, the theater, the price strikes us as a bit lavish, but Royal OCF Holdings met it.
Gamble, however, never took him up on the offer. Now a neighbor has filed a petition to give it to him.
PDQ reports that the neighbor, Juan Levy, filed suit in Common Pleas Court to have a conservator appointed for the building under the provisions of Act 135, the state law that allows historic buildings to be put into a form of receivership if it appears the building is being demolished through neglect. In the suit, Levy recommended Feibush as conservator.
For his part, Feibush states he did not seek this intervention and that the court is free to appoint whoever it chooses. But Feibush has plans already announced for both redeveloping the Royal and building on vacant lots adjacent to it on South and Kater streets, which is more than Gamble has done to this point. And as rumors have circulated that Universal is suffering a cash crunch, turning down an offer to buy the building for the asking price seems odd indeed. Unless you think that Gamble’s sale effort was just a ruse to allow him to petition the Historical Commission to release him from covenants not to demolish the building attached when he purchased it from the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia in 2000.
Stay tuned. This is gonna get real interesting real fast.