Monday, November 11, 2013
Royal Theater Public Meeting
It was stated upfront that this meeting would be the first of an on-going set of meeting to discuss the development of the Royal Theater.
Chris Stromberg, from the SOSNA Architectural Review Committee, stated that the ARC's procedures for reviewing the development work of the Royal Theater would be more stringent than a typical review. The ARC anticipates two separate reviews of the development plans before a plan is presented to the SOSNA Zoning Committee and neighborhood review. Typically only one review is held. UC stated that they expect to make zoning variance requests.
Universal Companies provided the major presentation of the evening. This was given by Rahim Islam, President and CEO, and Shahied Dawan, CFO. The majority of their presentation identified UC's mission and their history with the Royal Theater. Their opening statement was to declare the "negative chatter" about UC they heard in the back of the hall as untrue. They gave a chronological run down of their activities with the Royal Theater. They stated that they had made several proposals in the past to develop the Royal Theater as a cultural and entertainment venue, but did not find sufficient support to proceed in this fashion.Their latest proposal is to develop the site as retail space fronting South Street, thirty rental units upstairs, thirteen parking spaces, and six town homes with garages on Kater Street. The facade will remain intact. The development will span from 1520 thru 1536 South Street, which includes some of the property adjacent to the Royal Theater which UC currently owns.
Comments from the Q&A session were varied. Several stressed the importance the Royal Theater had to the African American community and a desire to preserve some aspect of this history as part of the development plans. Many wanted the space to provide some kind of cultural/entertainment outlet. Two neighbors were hostile to UC, providing examples where UC had not been responsive to local residents' requests.
Update: Read what NakedPhilly has to say about the meeting here.