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They've Done It! Royal Theater Remodeling Plans Revealed

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The historic Royal Theater on South Street, once host of sparkling acts such as Cab Calloway and Bessie Smith, is now on course to face a new use. Though that use is not entirely clear, it is apparent that the beautiful front facade will remain intact as a testament to its storied history.
This iconic establishment, almost 100 years old, was a bastion of African American theater. However, after closing in 1970, the doors have stayed shut for four decades until plans take decisive direction.

Developer Carl Dranoff has partnered with Universal for the project. On September 10, Dranoff and JDavis architect Daryl Carrington unveiled their idea to the South of South Neighborhood Association. Their plan includes the following:

  • Demolition of all but the Royal's facade

  • 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

According to PlanPhilly, three big civic orgs will also have to consent on this plan: the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia (who holds the rights to the facade easement), The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (because of a restrictive building covenant as a result of receipt of state grant money) and the Philadelphia Historic Commission (who will need to grant a hardship, since the building has been designated locally). The timeline is still up in the air. But for a place as patient as this, it's no time at all until its next calling beckons.
·Morning Headlines: Redevelopment Plans for the Royal Theater [Philly Mag]
· Royal redevelopment plans advancing, facadism and density ahead [Plan Philly]