Is Demo at the Boyd Theatre About to Take Place?

The corner building is staying. Not so for the next two. Photo: James Jennings

The corner building at 1900 Chestnut is staying. Not so for the next two. Photo: James Jennings

Are plans for the corner of 19th and Chestnut Street starting to take shape? A demolition permit hung on two of the buildings on site will certainly change the look of things and could point to the beginnings of a 26-story apartment tower. Here’s the thing, if city permits tell us anything, it looks like work will also begin (or has begun) on the historic Boyd Theatre as well. But first, let’s get into those orange stickers for a moment.

Issued on February 25, the permit shines some light on what the immediate future of the site could hold:


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Is Boyd Theatre Site the Key to Future Apartment Tower?


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?

Morning Headlines: Preservationist Howard Haas On the Boyd Theatre Verdict

The Boyd Theatre circa 1928. Photo credit: The Irvin R. Glazer Collection, Athenaeum of Philadelphia via Friends of the Boyd.

The Boyd Theatre circa 1928.
Photo credit: The Irvin R. Glazer Collection, Athenaeum of Philadelphia via Friends of the Boyd.

For a split second there it seemed as if the Boyd Theatre would get its happy ending, last minute hero and all. But to the dismay of its preservationist supporters, the Philadelphia Historical Commission approved all the “economic hardship” applications that makes its demolition all but guaranteed.

In an article published on PlanPhilly, an incredulous Friends of the Boyd (FoB) president Howard Haas notes how FoB’s opponents pushed the “rats, homeless, blight” argument and insisted on the rejuvenating effect iPic would have on the neighborhood. Yet even after FoB addressed these points, the Historical Commission sided with the more lucrative option.

From Haas’s article:

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

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.

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Breaking: Caped Preservation Crusader Offers to Buy the Boyd

historic boyd theatre philadelphia
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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Center City’s Next Hot Blocks?


It’s been a long time since anyone has called Chestnut Street hot. But the span from 19th Street to 22nd Street on Chestnut is poised to transform that side of Center City.

In just a couple of months Noche will become George Sabatino’s solo project, Aldine. That restaurant will serve as a gateway to the stretch. Also on the drawing board for the 1900 block is Hill Country Barbecue which would replace the recently vacated liquor store at 1913 Chestnut Street. On the other end of the block, Jane G’s sleek look welcomes pedestrians from 20th Street’s already booming stretch, that features  Village Whiskey, Tinto, Capogiro and Shake Shack.

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Morning Headlines: 84 Percent Endorse iPic’s Plan for the Boyd

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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Is It Time to Tear Down the Boyd Theater?

boyd-theater-philadelphia-sameric-chestnut-street-megan-madeline-welch 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 »

Morning Headlines: Consultants Say Boyd Redevelopment Is Too Pricey

The Boyd Theatre circa 1928. Photo credit: The Irvin R. Glazer Collection, Athenaeum of Philadelphia via Friends of the Boyd.

The Boyd Theatre circa 1928.
Photo credit: The Irvin R. Glazer Collection, Athenaeum of Philadelphia via Friends of the Boyd.

The new owners of the Boyd Theatre will present development plans before the Philadelphia Historical Commission on Tuesday, January 28th. According to PlanPhilly’s Ashley Hahn, they already put in a financial hardship application for the former movie palace, aka the Sameric at 19th and Chestnut — a customary move for developers who want to demolish a building:

In order to justify demolition based on financial hardship, the owners must show that sale of the property “is impracticable, that commercial rental cannot yield a reasonable rate of return, and that other potential uses are foreclosed.”

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