I just got an email asking a great question and it deserves it's own thread in SWCC -- what is up with Kenny Gamble and the Royal Theater, and why is it still a vacant blighted mess over a decade after SWCC was pitched that Universal had the answers to what this historic building and the community needed? The answer is a long and convoluted look at how the Democrat's closely held landbanking policies fail in practice, since they sit outside of any market based correction, and how no Democrat in Philly has the stones to criticize a generous contributor no matter how questionable or obviously lacking.
The Royal Theater is the microcosm case that explains why Nutter and City Council refuse to assess property taxes according to state law using some objective criteria, and refuse to fix property tax collections. If they were to do that, friends like Kenny Gamble and his holdings will be reassessed in real time, and have to pay their fair share.
The story of the Royal, is the story of what went wrong with the Philly Democratic party when it got access to huge federal grants for low income housing. community, and urban development. It shows how HUD fails cities and how Democrats corrupt themselves to retain a paying contributor, dropping the ball on follow up and public stewardship.
The Democrats have developed a blind spot so profound about Universal that they will ignore the lessons of how Gamble handled the Royal and most of the other Universal properties in order to give him yet one more federal grant -- $500,000 to study how to take over Audenried High School, even though Universal once ran an EMO (Educational Mangement Organization) under Paul Vallas, and lost most of the schools in its charge, with the schools reverting back to the Philly School District control. Kids who grew up in these schools and who realized how far behind they had fallen staged a mutiny, a coup, against having Universal run another school that they had no choice but to attend.