Plans are in the works to redevelop a 102-year-old theater in West Philly in an ongoing effort to revitalize the once popular shopping district around 60th Street corridor. Originally built in 1914 as a theater and run by the Warner Brothers, the Imperial Ballroom currently sits vacant just three blocks from the 60th and Market Streets El Station and is now part of a rehabilitation project that will include revitalizing the ballroom for retail use; creating an adjacent community park with an outdoor movie theater, and demolishing two vacant townhouses for new construction of eight 2-bedroom apartments.
George Bantel of Neighborhood Restorations/West Philadelphia Real Estate says that the Imperial Ballroom rehabilitation project is a follow-up to an 81-unit project they completed last year on 45 scattered sites around the corridor. "We had to stabilize the corridor first," he says. "Now, we're trying to draw in an anchor tenant [for the ballroom]—someone who can really create a draw to the neighborhood."
Although the developers just started marketing the site last week, Bantel says they've considered a few potential types of tenants that would benefit the corridor, which has recently struggled with a string of violence. "We've looked at what's around the neighborhood already, and while there are several grocery stores, we don't believe there's a gym within two miles of the site."
Community stakeholders have also suggested educational facilities, health-care related tenants, or restaurants to take over the space. Regardless, the Imperial Ballroom will be preserved. It does not have a historic designation, though Bantel says they are looking into it.
If the ballroom can find a tenant and enough funds are raised for the community park, Bantel says the projects should break ground in late 2016.
· 60th Street's Struggles [PI]