Check this out. A shot from May 23, 1983 shows what looks like hundreds of Philadelphians lined up on Chestnut Street to see the opening of George Lucas’s Return of the Jedi, the third and final installment of his Star Wars saga in the late-70s/early-80s. What you see there is the recently demolished Boyd Theatre in its heyday, offering 70mm, 6-track-stereo-sound showings of the film that had people excited because it was the first to use THX technology.
Representatives for the redevelopment that is simply being called the Boyd Theatre project made their presentation to the Architectural Committee of the Historical Commission on Tuesday. It’s safe to say that the designs, only seen by the public thanks to the application to the commission posted on the city’s website, haven’t been well received since their release last week.
Inga Saffron was blunt and demanded more from the development team and the Historical Commission. The forum at the Skyscraper Page felt uninspired. On Tuesday, the Architectural Committee officially gave its collective thumbs down to the proposal.
The summer temps and packed crowd in room 578 in City Hall made for a stuffy atmosphere for a presentation. While reps from Eimer Architecture and Pearl Properties had information to give to the committee, they didn’t have enough in there to paint a clear picture of the proposal. Read more »
It’s likely you’ve been able to have a few peeks inside the demolished 1920s movie palace since March (that’s not including the Art Deco lobby, which is being kept of course) but we haven’t been able to take a good look around the site from the inside…until now that is.
Photographer Meghan Baciu has posted some photos taken inside the former Boyd Theatre to her Instagram account, which, let’s be honest here, is the perfect vicarious excursion into a neat place that will (soon?) be replaced by more apartments and retail. So join us on this second-hand urbex trip and be thankful you didn’t suffer any bug bites as Baciu, bless her photog heart, did. Enjoy! Read more »
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:
COMPLETE DEMOLITION OF 2-STORY BUILDING #2 (FORMERLY KNOWN AS 1902 CHESTNUT ST.) AND 2-STORY BUILDING #3 (FORMERLY KNOWN AS 1904 CHESTNUT ST). 2-STORY BUILDING #1 (FORMERLY KNOWN AS 1900 CHESTNUT ST) TO REMAIN.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.