By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A movie theater company wants to restore the facade of the boarded-up Boyd Theater in Philadelphia to its original 1928 splendor – but demolish the interior –  and install an 8-screen complex.

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Plans have come and gone to either preserve or tear down the Boyd, which has sat empty at 1908 Chestnut Street since it closed in 2002.

The latest interest is from iPic Entertainment, which wants to bring a home theater concept out of the house, and into the Boyd, featuring reclining leather seating, with drink and food service, according to iPic’s Paul Safran.

“It’s really more of an entertainment destination,” Safran says, “rather than a typical movie experience.”

But Friends of the Boyd founder Howard Haas says iPic would “gut the interior.”

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“They would be demolishing the lobbies and the grand auditorium,” Haas says. “Everything behind the facade.”

Haas says the Boyd’s interior has been acclaimed by national experts on grand movie palaces. He says preservationists will challenge iPic’s hardship application before the Philadelphia Historical Commission at its next meeting on December 17th, as iPic seeks a demolition permit.

Haas says nearly every city in the United States has a restored downtown movie palace.

The exterior of the Boyd Theater has historical status, but the interior was never designated for historical protection.

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