A new concert venue, associated with the House of Blues brand, is coming to Richmond Street, along the Fishtown waterfront on the Central Delaware waterfront. The proposed venue is being developed by David Grasso, of Grasso Holdings and FOF Entertainment Group, and is to be operated by huge concert promoter Live Nation, which now owns the House of Blues brand.
The new concert hall will be a renovation of two 76,000 square foot warehouses on a 7.1 acre site. It will have capacity for 2,600 to 3,000 concertgoers at once and will host music, comedy, and theater performances, as well as, corporate events. There will be a 28,000 square foot concert floor and 6,000 square foot mezzanine. Both the concert floor and mezzanine will have concessions for food and drink. Alcohol sales will be limited to these two concessions. Outside, there will be 650 parking spaces on the property and an additional 280 spaces on an adjacent lot on Cumberland Street, where there will be a second entrance to the building.
The Planning Commission and the City Council Rules Committee have already approved the project, with final Council approval likely to happen this fall. The Zoning Board has already allowed a change in zoning from strictly industrial uses to industrial and commercial uses. Grasso hasn’t quite finalized the deal to purchase the site yet, but Planning Commission, Zoning Board, and Rules Committee approval make it likely that he will be able to finish the transaction and obtain financing soon. There was the usual neighborhood opposition to the project. The closest neighbors are afraid that the venue will be more like a nightclub and will bring rowdy, drunk patrons through their neighborhoods. Grasso and his lawyer, Ronald Patterson, argued that it will not be a nightclub because it will not have DJ-only nights and alcohol will only be served in one area. They, also, argue that the concertgoers won’t pass through the neighborhoods, but will take I-95 and Delaware Avenue directly there. A new off-ramp from I-95 is now under construction just south of the site, near Girard Avenue. The Planning Commission and Rules Committee sided with Grasso on those arguments.
This will be a great addition to Philadelphia’s live entertainment scene. This venue will fill a niche for medium-sized concert venues in the area. Currently, some music groups can’t find a medium-sized concert venue in the area that is available when they will be in this part of the country, so this fills that void. It, also, brings the rather prestigious House of Blues brand to the area. Grasso had previously tried to bring a House of Blues to a site near Broad Street and Washington Avenue, to no avail. Having this concert hall, at this location, also adds to the growing number of entertainment venues on the Delaware waterfront. Soon, we’ll have this 3,000-person venue, the expanded Sugar House Casino, the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden (formerly the Tweeter Center, Sony-Blockbuster Entertainment Center, E-Centre, etc.), the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing, the Festival Pier, the new Race Street Pier, and the new Philly Fringe/Live Arts Festival performance space and restaurant across from the Race Street Pier (see other article). All this will join other waterfront tourist attractions, such as the Adventure Aquarium, the Independence Seaport Museum, the Battleship New Jersey, Campbell’s Field, the Moshulu, the Philadelphia Belle, and the USS Olympia and Becuna. As you can see, the number of entertainment venues and tourists attractions along the Delaware is starting to add up, and this new concert venue will be an important part of that and will probably encourage more tourist and entertainment development on the Delaware waterfront.
You can learn a bit more about the new House of Blues concert hall in this PlanPhilly article here and check out the rendering below.