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For Merriam Theater renovations, addition of 32-story tower at play

Big changes are in the works

The facade of the Merriam Theater on South Broad Street.
The Merriam Theater is set to undergo a major makeover.
Courtesy of Shutterstock

Talks have begun for the Merriam Theater on South Broad Street to undergo a major and much-needed renovation, according to multiple reports. One big idea that’s floating around? Tacking on a 32-story tower onto it.

That’s according to the Kimmel Center, which became owner of the Merriam Theater just last year when it purchased the property from the University of the Arts. The Kimmel Center told the Inquirer that it would team up with a developer to demolish a portion of the property and build a 32-story (probably residential) tower with new lobby spaces in its place.

But these talks are all in the preliminary stages, according to the article. The Kimmel Center plans to solicit proposals from developers this week. It will also host a public meeting about the Merriam Theater renovations in September, says NewsWorks.

The Merriam opened in 1918 on South Broad. The actual theater remains well-preserved, while its exterior has undergone multiple changes over the years. The plan is to keep the theater as is, but provide more legroom and space in general for the audience. Richard Maimon of Kieran Timberlake, which created the proposed design, said that the hope is that the renovation creates a new and improved experience for theatergoers:

Maimon describes a newly configured building that gives theatergoers a different kind of experience: a clear façade that allows the public to see in and out, a double-height lobby, a grand stairway, the ability to access seats easily, modern amenities, and places for the audience to gather.

As for the potential tower, it would potentially join a growing list of other tall residential projects that have been proposed nearby. Carl Dranoff’s 45-story SLS International Hotel & Residences is in the works a couple of blocks away, as well as another tower proposed for Broad and Pine. In addition, an RFQ has been issued for the Health Center No. 1 building also a short walk away from the Merriam.