A reader checked in, asking about the vacant building at 311 S. Broad St., directly across the street from the Kimmel Center. We were reminded that we wondered about that very building some ten years ago, around the time the Kimmel Center opened, thinking it would be a slam-dunk location for a fancy bar/restaurant. Alas, the building is being used now for pretty much the same purpose as it was back then- a pigeon coop.
All 19,500 sqft of 311 S. Broad St. were purchased by Assorted Music Partnership, back in 1997, for $400K. The (former) Philadelphia International Records office was located in the building next door, until it caught fire last year. Both Assorted Music Partnership and Philadelphia International Records, in case you didn’t already assume, are owned by gated-mansion loving, Philadelphia soul pioneering, Kenny Gamble. And may we add, the still-boarded up windows at PIR fit in perfectly when examined alongside a property that’s been vacant for fifteen years.
To the south, a vacant lot owned by University of the Arts. This site was home to an art installation last year, and may be the site of a new student housing building in the years to come. UArts demolished a really attractive building that once stood here at some point in the 1990s. Quite a shame, really.
According to a post by Michael Klein from over a year ago, Gamble had rejected developers interested in this property for years, until finally attempting early last year to find a chain tenant for this building. The continued vacancy shows just how well that effort went. And we can only assume that this was a halfhearted effort at best, as a few larger chains have indeed found new space to lease in the immediate area in the last year.
Sure, Mr. Gamble has renovated tons of blighted buildings over the years, to his credit. But this is another example of Gamble sitting on a valuable piece of real estate for many years, allowing it to deteriorate without any apparent plan for its redevelopment. Kind of makes you optimistic for the future of the Royal Theater, eh?