Morning Headlines: Uptown Theater Tower Rentals Seem Stalled

uptown theater

Photo of the Uptown Theater via Hidden City Philadelphia.

Like the Metropolitan Opera House, the John Coltrane House, and the Royal Theater, just to name a few, the Uptown Theater is an important part of the city’s architectural and cultural heritage. It’s also on the National Register of Historic Places.

Designed by famed architect Louis Magaziner in 1929, it started life as a movie theater, but live performance came to define it, with musical acts like Ray Charles, Smokey Robinson, Marvin 
Gaye, Gladys Knight & the Pips, and the Supremes making mandatory stops in the 1960s.

After years of decline and dwindling audiences, the no-longer-used building was bought in 2001 by the nonprofit Uptown Entertainment and Development Corporation (UEDC), which spent eight years raising funds to begin interior renovations. The plan has been to turn the Uptown into apartments, but don’t hold your breath. From CBS 3:

Linda Richardson, president of Uptown Entertainment Development Corp. … says little has been done this summer to get the Uptown tower ready for renters, as planned last year. It is still without electricity or a working elevator.

But the facade is making progress. The Art Deco tiling has been completed, and Richardson told CBS 3, “It’s close to the way it was when it was installed in 1927 and 29…It took a lot of research and time, but it is historically accurate.”

More headlines:

• It’s not just a neighborhood: Speaking of historical properties, after an extensive remodel, THE Strawberry Mansion will open officially tonight for the big renovation reveal. “The house right now is in the best shape it’s been in since probably 1926,” a member of the Committee of 1926, which administers the home, tells CBS 3.
• A hidden room discovered underground in West Chester: Public workers were doing their thing on Church Street in West Chester when they discovered a glass manhole cover, and beneath that, a window into a little room with a metal chair and a few bottles. Speculation ranges from its being a root cellar to a hiding space for runaway slaves to storage for a nearby tavern. The Inquirer has more.
• Good to know: Google’s in-development Genie project is part of its Google-X secret development team (which in itself is a little ridiculous). But if the online application Genie comes out of the bottle, it sounds like it could have terrific uses for “architects and engineers in the design process, especially for skyscrapers and large buildings. The platform includes planning tools of expert architects and engineers and advance analytics and simulation tools. Genie standardizes and automates the design and construction processes with unlimited design options, enabling an architect to preserve the building’s uniqueness in the urban environment.” Via Archinect.