Update on the Royal Theater

You may recall, we told you last month that the Royal Theater, the historic but long-vacant theater on South Street West, was for sale. Recently, we heard rumblings that the property is under contract for more than we would have expected. It seems like a pretty penny for about 11,000 sqft of vacant land plus a huge old theater that will be nearly impossible to redevelop, but what do we know?

Image from Wikipedia

What plans do the party that’s planning to purchase the Royal have for the old girl?

The bulk of the value here comes from the vacant lots, where high-end homes (and condos) can be built. As we mentioned above, the theater is the trickiest part of the parcel, as its size, historical designation, and poor condition make it a really tough building to redevelop profitably. We confess, we have no clue at this time what the developers buying the building are planning, but doing a little digging around (on that handy dandy L&I website), we did come upon something sort of interesting.

Very interesting

It seems that earlier this year, current owners Universal Companies attempted to pull a permit to undertake a partial demolition of the Royal Theater. Yeah, we know it says Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia on the screen shot above, but that’s a clerical error by the OPA, which never changed the ownership info when Universal purchased the property from the Preservation Alliance back in 2000.

Is this partial demo permit a sign that Universal was really planning to go through with their proposal to tear off the back of the building and build market-rate housing and parking? Was it part of some other idea that we never heard about? Will the party that has the building under contact move forward with a partial demolition of the Royal?

We’ll keep our ears to the ground and let y’all know if we hear anything…