Out-Of-Town Developers Want to Build Philly’s Biggest Nightclub in Chinatown

Brace yourselves, it could get ugly.

Photo: Jeff Fusco

Photo: Jeff Fusco

Philly’s nightclub scene is about to be lit. There’s a 24-year-old “developer” from out of town with his eyes set on Chinatown, the neighborhood that could soon be home to his vision of a 1,000-person capacity nightclub, what he deems would be the biggest and most technically sophisticated in the city, the Inquirer reports.

And he plans to do it all with his mom’s help.

The Inquirer reports that the club — NOTO, short for “Not of the Ordinary” — is James and Micheline DeBerardine’s master plan to bring “name-brand DJs from the Las Vegas-Amsterdam-Ibiza circuit, a speaker system built by Finnish soundsmiths, and VIP seating with flowing bottle-service champagne” to Philadelphia.

An old office building at 1209 Vine is the lucky spot, and the tag-team that said “it’s going to be phenomenal” has already paid $6 million for the 60,000 square-foot property. They also bought the vacant lot next door, the site where they plan to build a 16-story apartment building, with two ground-floor restaurant spaces.

But supposed non-disclosure agreements have tied the tongues of the two who won’t reveal the plan’s budget, the Inquirer said. Oh, and they also apparently have zero development experience, with mom citing her background as a real-estate lawyer and son referencing his dance-music connects for cred.

Who’s behind this plan? No one in the community. That’s according to John Chin the executive director of the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation.

PCDC has met with the NOTO organizers twice, Chin said, adding, that before reading the Inquirer’s story, his organization wasn’t even clear about the nature of the club.

“Before reading the story [on Tuesday], we weren’t even clear on what they were proposing,” Chin said. “We understood the volume of people, but after reading the article it seems to raise the imagery of clubs that used to be down on Columbus Avenue. They were magnets of problems and nuisance establishments.”

The PCDC has put together a community coalition of people all against the development, including local organizations, schools, community residents, state senators and state representatives.

“In Chinatown there’s just tremendous concern and apprehension,” Chin said, reflecting on the host of nightclubs that used to exist along Spring Garden from 2nd to 6th. “Chinatown also had [a nightclub] on 8th and Callowhill years ago, and they all produced serious problems for the community: noise, loitering, violence, public urination, all of the things that come with a poorly managed establishment.”

Chin said that after attending a Liquor Control Board hearing about two weeks ago concerning the operator, the PCDC is trying to incorporate a number of standards on how the club should operate and is trying to tie the standards to an agreement that “has some teeth so that it can hold the operator accountable.”

“The operator doesn’t have experience managing clubs, and they’re from out of town,” Chin said. “This is some family investing in their son, investing in his dream opportunity for him.”

“But it definitely doesn’t mix well with the neighborhood.”

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