By Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A committee of the Philadelphia Historical Commission grappled with a tough question, but recommended that a developer be granted a ‘hardship’ demolition to gut most of the interior of the historic Boyd Theater, to redevelop it.
The full Commission will take up the matter in mid-March.
After lengthy testimony over two days from developers, architects, engineers, consultants – and preservationists – the Hardship Committee of the Historical Commission decided to vote on the financial hardship application.
After a 20-second pause, there were no offers to even second the motion. Finally, committee member Sara Merriman, who abstained from voting, remarked “no one wants to be on the hook, least of all me.”
The committee voted 3-0 with two people abstaining to recommend that the full Historical Commission approve a developer’s plan to demolish a large portion of the interior to install an 8-screen movie theater and restaurant.
Commission member Bob Thomas, an architectural historian, voted for it.
“The question was, did the applicant meet the criteria,” Thomas said.
Preservationists like Howard Haas are still hoping that their anonymous donor, who is willing to match the purchase price offer, coupled with fundraising, will keep the Boyd intact, and ultimately, get it restored and reused as a multi-purpose entertainment center.