Morning Headlines: Redevelopment Plans for the Royal Theater

Plus public baths under the El (yes, really).


It took about a year, but developer Carl Dranoff and JDavis Architects unveiled plans for the vacant Royal Theater at a South of South Neighborhood Association meeting last week. PlanPhilly has the details this morning.

Kenny Gamble’s Universal Companies purchased the historic building in 2000 but it has been mightily neglected since then. Dranoff partnered with Universal last year when the group announced plans for a mixed-use building to replace the theater. Details on the proposed building were fuzzy until last week’s meeting. Thanks to PlanPhilly, we now know the proposal includes the following provisions.

  • Demolition of all but the Royal’s façade
  • Construction of new building about 50 feet tall
  • 45 “high-end” rental apartment units
  • 21 below-grade parking spaces accessed from a 20-foot wide garage entry on Kater Street.
  • 7,600 square feet of retail on South Street, 55-feet deep in a double-height space
  • Restoration of historic façade, with new structure behind articulated to defer to the original
  • Nearly full lot coverage
  • Green roofs at 3rd floor
  • Kater Street façade will resemble six tall rowhouses, with stoops, bays and setbacks at the top floor terraces

In order to get all that done, Dranoff says he’s going to need to do some legislative rezoning to allow construction. That’s not the only hurdle. PlanPhilly says three big civic orgs will also have to consent first: the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia (which controls the easement on the façade), The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (thanks to a restrictive covenant on the building once it received state grant money) and the Philadelphia Historic Commission (because the building has been designated locally, the PHC will need to grant a hardship).

For historical perspective on the theater which once hosted Cab Calloway and Bessie Smith, it’s worth reading the entire report and reading up on the plodding pace of redevelopment since 2000.

Royal Theater Redevelopment Plans advancing [PlanPhilly]

More news this way …

Phase III of Fishtown’s Icehouse beginning [Inquirer]

Housing advocates not pleased with Christie plan []

Bala Ave. rezoning plan moves forward in Lower Merion [Main Line Times]

Chester Heights Council taking negligent property owner to court [Delco Daily Times]

Antique swimming hole under the El [Hidden City]