Demolition of the interior of the Boyd Theater, including its graceful Art Deco auditorium, could begin this week. A Licenses & Inspection permit allowing owner Clear Channel Entertainment to demolish “non-load bearing walls and ceiling only” was posted on the building over the weekend.
Gutting the interior would be a catastrophic blow to advocates of the theater, who are planning to appeal Friday’s Historical Commission ruling allowing iPic-Gold Class Entertainment to install eight screens and an Italian restaurant in the building. Howard Haas, president of Friends of the Boyd, said the Historical Commission’s ruling can’t be appealed to the L&I Review Board until it’s received in the mail, a process that could take a week.
The Historical Commission’s decision granting financial hardship–and any appeals–only apply to the exterior walls of the theater, which are protected by being on the City’s Historic Register. The interior of the building is not protected, so no special permission is needed for Clear Channel Entertainment to move forward with demolition.
Preservation Alliance advocacy director Ben Leech said that he hasn’t been able to find out what specifically the owners plan to demolish, but that he’s very concerned that they will rip out the interior decoration.
“If you wanted to dissuade anyone from a long appeal you would remove the interior, which is the part people care about, especially given the timing, when they know an appeal might be forthcoming,” said Leech.
To Haas, the demolition is a cynical ploy meant to short circuit what could be a lengthy appeals process. “They do have a legal right [to demolish],” said Haas. “But it has only one purpose and that is scorched earth. We will appeal regardless.”
IPic’s attorney, Matthew McClure of Ballard Spahr, declined to comment on the demolition permit.
The firm Pepper Environmental has been hired to do the demolition work, at an estimated cost of $100,000. When asked today by a Hidden City Daily reporter outside the Boyd this morning if demolition would begin today, two contractors didn’t respond, walked inside and closed the door behind them.
Peter Woodall and Bradley Maule contributed reporting to this story.