By Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A hearing today was adjourned, with no action taken, on whether interior portions of the long-vacant Boyd Theatre, at 1910 Chestnut Street, should be demolished to allow a movie company to install an eight-screen complex.
A committee of the Philadelphia Historical Commission heard four hours of testimony but ran out of time before deciding whether to make an advisory, non-binding recommendation to the full commission.
It will schedule more testimony before a vote.
Peter Angelides of Econsult Solutions, which was hired by Florida-based developer iPic Entertainment, says his consulting firm looked at a wide array of reuse scenarios, including converting the Boyd into a Broadway-style theatre, a performance venue, a single-screen cinema, or retailing and/or restaurants.
“There is no use to which the Boyd Theatre may be reasonably adapted given the cost of renovations and the revenues that can be expected by those uses,” Angelides testified. He says costs ranged from $30 million to $52 million and, without “significant” public subsidies it would not be feasible to reuse the building.
But Caroline Boyce, executive director of the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia, said that iPic’s hardship application was fundamentally incomplete, “and we do not believe the burden of proof has been met to justify the irrevocable demolition of center city’s last movie palace.”
Howard Hass, who organized the group “Friends of the Boyd,” which is struggling to save the old theatre, plopped down hard copies of more than 300 e-mails from folks who oppose the demolition.
The only portion of the Boyd that would be preserved and restored in the current plan is the Chestnut Street facade and “headhouse” entrance, where tickets were sold.