The Royal Theater, the first Black owned theater in Philadelphia, has seen better days. Though the historic structure, built in 1920, was sold through the Preservation Alliance to developer Kenny Gamble with the understanding that the theater would be preserved, it has sat vacant and unrestored for nearly thirteen years.
Though developer Kenny Gamble seemed eager to preserve the structure, Philadelinquency dug up evidence that his company, Universal Homes, has hit some tough times since the housing collapse in 2009. And the Royal Theater project would require a hefty investment to truly repair the building.
And now, the lawsuit: a neighboring landowner has filed a petition under Act 135, a provision which allows the Court of Common Pleas to appoint a conservator of long vacant nuisance properties. Though the conservator is empowered to sell and restore the property, they cannot profit from it. The petition suggests that the court appoint the very controversial Ori Feibush as conservator.
Though the court can choose any conservator, the petition's mention of a big, controversial name is sure to get some attention. Stay tuned, because this edition of Preservation Watch is far from over.
· Royally Huge Act 135 Case Launched Against Owner of Royal Theater [Philadelinquency]
· Holy Smokes the Royal Theater is for Sale [Naked Philly]
· The Royal Theater [Hidden City]