By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The fate of the famed Blue Horizon boxing arena in North Philadelphia hangs in the balance. In one corner are the owners who want to sell it to a hotel developer. In the other corner: local preservationists who say the site is historic.
The city’s Historical Commission will vote next month on whether the Blue Horizon should be deemed historic. A committee of the Commission, this week, voted that the exterior should get that designation, while the interior should not. But the city’s Commerce Director, Alan Greenberger, says the question, for the moment, is moot, because the owners already have a permit to proceed with demolition and construction.
“It can’t. It can’t take precedence over a legally obtained permit for alteration and new construction,” he says. “They have a valid building permit to proceed with the alteration and construction of a new hotel.”
The owners want to sell the Blue Horizon to a developer, who intends to turn it into a boutique hotel. They applied for the permit in 2013, and only after that did the Preservation Alliance try to have the site declared historic.
“So a valid permit takes precedence over the application to the Historical Commission,” says Greenberger, “if it precedes it.”
He says it is not uncommon that the permit would be paid for an issued many months after it was applied for. So Greenberger says only if this specific hotel plan falls through would a historic designation become a factor.
“If the proposed project does not go ahead, then the Historical Commission’s findings would be active,” he says. “If another buyer came along, and said ‘I’d like to do something with this property,’ it would not be under the jurisdiction of the Historical Commission.”
According to officials with the Historical Commission, the Blue Horizon, on North Broad Street near Temple University, has not hosted a boxing match since 2010. In the early 20th century, the building was a Moose Lodge, and then was turned into a boxing venue in the 1960s.