Judging from the presence not only of Kenny Gamble, founder and CEO of Universal Companies, but also of his negotiating team at Tuesday’s formal unveiling of Dranoff Properties’ SLS International Hotel and Residences project, the record exec-turned-community developer and the master developer continue to maintain a strong working relationship. The two have long been partners in real estate deals, including Symphony House (left), Southstar Lofts and 777 South Broad. And now Gamble has agreed to sell two lots he owns at Broad and Spruce streets to Dranoff in order to make his project possible.
When we asked Gamble about the status of the Royal Theater, which remains uncertain amidst both a conservatorship challenge and a still-pending petition to demolish most of the structure, his response suggested that Dranoff may have ideas for the space. Though Dranoff has said he is only acting as an advisor to Gamble’s Universal Companies on the Royal, it seems possible that he may be considering more involvement.
"He has some ideas [for the Royal]," Gamble said of Dranoff. "After all, the Royal is the whole centerpiece for South Street West."
Universal presented concrete plans for the Royal at a recent community meeting, and those plans did not involve Dranoff. Would Dranoff's "ideas" run counter to those plans? Gamble stressed that "everything's preliminary." But given that Universal executives have said they still want to do right by the theater, anything that might produce a true reuse for the building would be welcome news indeed.