Residential units and townhouses moving forward at Royal Theater site

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Artist's rendering of the planned Royal residential complex at 1520-36 South Street, which incorporates the facade of the historic Royal Theater.

The owner of the South Street site of the historic Royal Theater is moving forward with a proposal for an apartment and townhouse development that incorporates the former venue’s facade.

Plans for the development, to be called the Royal, call for a six-story, 57-unit residential building facing South Street, with seven three-story townhouse units along the parcel’s Kater Street side to the south, according to documents posted on the website of Philadelphia’s Civic Design Review board.

The plan for the 1520-36 South St. property also includes parking for 24 cars, the documents show.

Robert Roskamp, best known as the backer of the Roskamp Institute, a medical-research center in Sarasota, Fla., purchased the Royal Theater property from music mogul Kenny Gamble's Universal Cos. in September.

Working with developer Carl Dranoff, Gamble had secured permission to demolish most of the theater, which once hosted performances by the likes of Fats Waller and Bessie Smith, while preserving its South Street-facing facade.

The Civic Design Review board, before which the city’s largest development proposals must be presented for nonbinding suggestions, is scheduled to consider the plan on Tuesday. 

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