New zoning introduced for Royal Theater redo

The redevelopment of the Royal Theater on South Street is moving forward after a bill was introduced in City Council on Thursday that would permit developer Carl Dranoff to build a mixed-use project on the site while maintaining the historically designated facade.

Councilman Kenyatta Johnson introduced the bill, which increases the density allowed on a portion of the property surrounded by 15th, 16th, South and Kater streets. Last month, Ashley Hahn reported that the proposed building will be around 50 feet tall, with 45 apartments, 21 parking spaces, and 7,600 square feet of retail space along South.

Lauren Vidas, the president of South of South Neighborhood Association (SOSNA), said that the group is putting together a process that mimics the public-input process required when developers seek variances from the zoning board. SOSNA will hold a public meeting with Dranoff to get input from community members, Vidas said. The group will share comments from that meeting with Councilman Johnson’s office, but it likely won’t take a formal vote, she said.

“The board sees our role in this is as really just giving a forum for the neighborhood to make their concerns known,” said Vidas.

“Near neighbors along Kater Street … have expressed significant concerns, and we’re encouraging them to work with the developer to come up with some compromises to make the project the best it can be …” she continued.

The bill will need to be considered by the Planning Commission and City Council’s Rules Committee before coming to a vote. In addition, Historical Commission approvals are needed before work on the building can begin.

“We are absolutely in favor on any proposal that retains commercial usage along South Street,” said Marcus Iannozzi, chair of the South Street West Business Association. “We feel that Dranoff’s proposal in particular is the most viable and thoughtful project that we’ve seen.”

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