The site of the historic Boyd Theatre has been back in the news recently. Pearl Properies, who acquired the former movie palace at 1908 Chestnut Street in October for $4.5M, now owns the entire stretch from the Boyd east to the corner at 1900 Chestnut Street. While the proposed iPic movie theater is trying to work out a deal with Pearl, Saffron notes that future of the site is now up in the air: “What happens now is anyone’s guess.”
Except, as Saffron points out, that Pearl has been looking to build a 26-story apartment tower at 19th and Chestnut Street prior to purchasing the Boyd.
Is a tower on the way?
The latest from Inga Saffron’s live tweeting of the hardship committee hearing on the Boyd Theater:
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Inga Saffron reports that “an anonymous donor has come forward and offered to purchase the theater on behalf of a preservation-minded non-profit.” The Boyd Theatre, on 19th and Chestnut, was on the verge of demolition — well, its art deco interior at the very least — as the Historical Commission plans to meet on Feb. 27th to consider further arguments in that direction. The building’s owner, LiveNation, claims that it’s simply too expensive to redevelop the building given its current condition.
Two things I’d like to note: 1. I’m sorry that LiveNation is having such money troubles. I can lend them about $20, if that would help. 2. The building (where I spent much of my childhood watching movies) would be a lot less of a shithole if this whole mess had been resolved several years ago.
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Google Street view of the Boyd Theatre.
Yesterday, Philly mag conducted a poll that asked the question: “Is it time to tear down the Boyd?” A startling 84 percent of respondents said, “Yes, it’s time for a new beginning.”
But the actual decision-making entity, the Philadelphia Historical Commission, tabled the vote yesterday until Friday, February 14th.
According to the Inquirer, longtime champions for the Boyd’s conservation are livid and believe it was “a lack of patience and public will” that resulted in inadequate maintenance and lost preservation opportunities. Friends of the Boyd President Howard Haas pointed to similar situations that ended successfully, saying, “almost every major U.S. city has a restored downtown movie palace.”
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This is the old Boyd Theater on the 1900 block of Chestnut Street. The once-glorious Art Deco movie theater has been dormant since 2002 and is, we can only begin to imagine, home to a large colony of diseased rats.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Philadelphia Historical Commission is set to hold a hearing about a new plan to convert the old Boyd into a new movie palace of sorts, a modern multi-screen affair that would show big Hollywood blockbusters and sell lots of popcorn. Naturally, the Friends of the Boyd are against this, because they are against pretty much any plan to touch the property.
Here’s a scene from the packed hearing room on Tuesday: Read more »