PHILADELPHIA-HOB Entertainment Inc., the Hollywood-based parent of House of Blues, has signed a lease with Grasso Holdings for a 40,000-sf entertainment venue in the historic Packard Building at 15th and Chestnut streets. It will include a 500-seat music hall and a 300-seat restaurant, open to the public, plus a 100-seat, members-only dining room and a penthouse private lounge.

The cost of the project is $21 million, according to David Grasso, president and CEO of the company that owns the building. “The cost will be shared by HOB and Grasso Holdings,” he tells, “and we have also obtained some government funding and historic preservation tax credits.”

The building dates back to the early 1920s and was originally a showroom and assembly plant for Packard motorcars. As Metro Development, Grasso’s company converted the building into a combination of office and luxury residential rental space in 2004 and renamed it the Packard Grande.

The House of Blues music hall will occupy the basement level in what was once a bank vault and be framed by the original safety deposit boxes. The full-service public restaurant will be on the ground floor along with a small HOB retail shop. It will host House of Blues’ Sunday gospel brunches, featuring live gospel performances.

The members-only Foundation Room will be on the mezzanine level, and Grasso says a shuttle elevator will connect this space with a members-only lounge on the 30th floor. Members will have access to House of Blues Foundation Rooms in other locations, which include Chicago, San Diego, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and New Orleans.

Grasso declined to disclose the value of the HOB lease, but says, “It’s a healthy rent. The lease term is for in excess of 15 years with multiple renewal options.” Grasso, a music enthusiast, says, “I always knew that House of Blues would be an incredible contribution to Philadelphia’s already enriched cultural offerings. We’ve been working on this project for two years.” It is expected to open in summer 2007.

“We’ve enjoyed great success in the region with the 2005 opening of House of Blues in Atlantic City,” says Liam Thornton, SVP of development for HOB, in a statement. “We are committed to bringing a multi-faceted House of Blues entertainment venue to Philadelphia…and preserving the rich heritage of the Packard Building.”

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