Ashley Hahn provides comprehensive coverage of the ongoing question about the fate of the historic Boyd Theatre, described as the Philadelphia’s “last movie palace.”
The current development plan by R Investment Nine gets at key questions about what designates historic preservation versus a version of preservation more aptly described as façadism. “The most recent plan…involves demolishing most of the historic theater to make way for the construction of a boutique, eight-screen movie house. The only part of the original Boyd Theatre proposed for reuse under the current plan would be the Chestnut Street façade and the exterior entrance area where tickets were sold (known as the headhouse),” reports Hahn.
Like many buildings deemed historic, only the façade is protected: “The Boyd was listed in the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places in 2008. That same year City Council enabled the Historical Commission to designate exceptional interior spaces as historic, but designation of the Boyd's deteriorating but remarkable Art Deco interiors was never pursued.”
At an upcoming hearing with the Philadelphia Historical Commission, the development team will attempt “to persuade the Historical Commission that there is a ‘financial hardship’ so burdensome that no owner can reasonably reuse or adapt the property for any purpose.”