Fate of Philadelphia's Boyd Theatre could come Friday

PHILADELPHIA - March 13, 2014

It has become an eyesore in the heart of Center City. The Boyd Theatre was once an art deco classic. It was built in 1928 and shut down since 2002.

The glory days of the ornate old movie palace at 19th and Chestnut is long gone. The once well-appointed hallways of the mammoth auditorium are visibly dilapidated.

There have been plans in the past for buyers to restore it, but they have not panned out.

Now the Boyd is at a crossroads. A group called "Friends of the Boyd" has crusaded for years to find a buyer who would restore it and keep it as a one stage live performance and occasional one-movie at a time venue.

"We have a funding commitment from a foundation to will allow us to purchase the building, and we are actively seeking the rehabilitation costs in order to restore the movie palace completely," said Howard Haas.

A local developer and a Florida film company want to renovate the narrow façade including the signature curved marquee, but demolish much of the building replacing the 2,400 seat auditorium with 8 luxury screening rooms and set up full dining facilities.

Advocates of this plan says it is the only way to make a reborn Boyd Theatre economically viable.

"The business model that they perceive is a fantasy," says Rich Heimlich, Movie Critic.

So contentious is the debate about the Boyd that many heated debates have broken out right in front of the shuttered relic.

"The bottom line is, the city deserves something better than this eye sore," said Heimlic.

"The city deserves a revitalized movie palace, and Friends of the Boyd want to make sure that happens," said Haas.

After all these years of promises, false starts and sitting in limbo, Friday could be the day the Boyd's fate is decided.

The historical commission is scheduled to vote on which plan to recommend.

The vote is expected to be a close one.

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