Fishtown wedding venue abruptly shuts down, customers looking for refunds

FISHTOWN (WPVI) -- Several customers of Skybox Event Center have been left in the dark and are looking for answers after the popular Philadelphia wedding venue abruptly shut down.

"Finding out you don't have a place to have your wedding, that's probably the worst thing that could happen," said Sara Appleby of Philadelphia.

Just three weeks before her May 19 wedding, Appleby learned from Skybox Event Center's event coordinator that her wedding venue was closing.

"We paid our initial deposit, which was $3,000, and then we paid our mid-payment in April. So right before they told us, we had paid a little over $8,000," said Appleby. "We haven't heard from the owner about receiving that back."

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Fishtown wedding venue abruptly shuts down: Jeannette Reyes reports during Action News Mornings on May 9, 2018.

The Skybox Event Center's phone number is no longer in service and owner Chris Voz has gone radio silent.

"We were in complete shock as to how they were able to sign a contract with us in 2017, knowing that they didn't have the correct zoning permits," said Matthew Chin, of Bloomfield, New Jersey.

In fact, a litany of zoning issues shuttered the once popular venue space. Officials said Skybox never had the proper zoning, just a special assembly license.

"It's unclear if they should have ever gotten that because they didn't have the proper use permits," said Zoning and Land Use attorney Jennifer Bazydlo. "But they did get one, and it expired in the beginning of 2015 and they never renewed."

However, all of this is welcome news to residents around the area who argue noise and parking have been ongoing issues.
"It was hard enough during the day because a lot of people work in this area, but coming home... and the weekend, to not have parking is frustrating," said Kenny Jackson of Port Richmond.

As for Appleby, she was able to find a new venue.

"It feels like a miracle we're even having a wedding. It's going to be a beautiful day!" she said. "I'm not going to let it ruin my day."

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