Councilman Kenyatta Johnson was pretty busy last Thursday. As you already know, he introduced a bill that would essentially see the luxury boutique Hudson Hotel replace that rundown parking facility that also happens to house Little Pete's Diner, which isn't a big deal or anything. According to Jared Brey at PlanPhilly, he also had some important actions regarding the redevelopment of the historic Royal Theater on 1500 block of South Street. The bill from Councilman Johnson "would permit developer Carl Dranoff to build a mixed-use project on the site while maintaining the historically designated facade" by increasing the density on a portion of the property.
The plans are to construct a 50-foot tall building comprised of 7,600 square-feet of ground floor retail topped by 45 apartments. Underground parking for 21 cars with an entrance on Kater St. is also included in the preliminary plans.
Developer Carl Dranoff has a heavy presence in the area. South Star Lofts, 777 South Broad and Symphony House are up and running and the SLS International project is coming soon. Dranoff said in September that was not going to seek zoning variances for the project and sought to "pursue legislative rezoning of the property," according to Eyes on the Street. Hence the action from Councilman Johnson on Thursday.
Even so, due to concerns from nearby neighbors, South of South Neighborhood Association president Lauren Vidas said they will look to "mimic" the zoning process where public input is gathered through a public meeting with Dranoff and the community.
What's insanely fascinating about the project is the facade itself. It's actually fascinatingly confusing. Eyes on the Street explains:
"The Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia holds a façade easement on the building, which means any plans to alter or restore the façade require the Alliance's approval. The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission will also need to consent to any alterations or demolition thanks to a restrictive covenant placed on the property's deed in exchange for grant funding awarded to Universal in 2008 to stabilize the building. Finally, because the building is designated historic locally, the Philadelphia Historical Commission would also have to grant a hardship, for which the owner previously filed an application."
· New zoning introduced for Royal Theater redo [PlanPhilly]
· Royal redevelopment plans advancing, facadism and density ahead [EOTS]