Ladies and gentlemen, the King is dead; long live the King. After much speculation about it's final destination, the legendarily kitschy King of Jeans sign in South Philly's East Passyunk neighborhood is coming down.
Its removal began around 11 a.m. this morning, with area residents posting images to social media of the iconic sign being removed from the facade where it stood since it was initially hung in 1994. And, perhaps needless to say, no one seems too happy about it:
Still, though, it is coming down, and in the King of Jeans' place will rise a 59-foot apartment/office building headed up by developer Andy Kaplan. The plan for that construction was approved in February 2014 after a rare reconsideration hearing that challenged the Zoning Board of Adjustment's initial denial of Kaplan's application.
The result reportedly will be comprised of some 3,000 square feet of retail space, additional office space on upper floors, and 12 apartments. What exactly will go into that retail and office space has not yet been determined.
Neither, it would seem, has the future of the King of Jeans sign. Speculation about what would happen to the iconic, gigantic illustration has been running wild since around December 2012, with Passyunk Post readers suggesting everything from a King of Jeans-themed bar to its ultimate destruction for the sign's future use.
As of March 2014, though, the Philadelphia History Museum was showing some interest. Via City Paper:
"I'm really looking forward to the possibility of the sign coming to the Philadelphia History Museum," says Kristen Froehlich, director of collections at the recently reopened PHM. "We're looking at the 20th century and trying to add pieces to our collection — and it really is a 20th-century landmark."
According to Darren Fava, East Passyunk Crossing Civic Association co-chair, there is no word on what's happening to the sign. Fava did say that the sign was not being handled too carefully during the removal.
So while it is not clear where the physical King of Jeans sign will end up just yet, one thing is true: Its memory will live on forever in our hearts. Or our T-shirts, at least.
UPDATE, Feb. 5, 2:41 p.m.: David Goldfarb of the East Passyunk Civic Association has reached out with a statement, but the news isn't great. As it turns out, the iconic signage will soon find its way to Provenance Salvage in Northern Liberties, where it will be displayed "under the condition that it not be re-sold."
Goldfarb indicates that developer Kaplan set up the deal with Provenance, with Rockland Capital having given the East Passyunk Crossing Civic Association numerous opportunities to find the sign a new location. Unfortunately, it just didn't happen.
Truly the end of an era. Read the full statement below:
Both East Passyunk Crossing Civic Association and I were sad to see that the iconic King of Jeans sign was taken down today. For well over a year, we worked diligently to find a new public place for the sign, ideally in the neighborhood but at any Philadelphia location if need be (chair Joseph F. Marino and owner Andy Kaplan even looked into the Atwater Kent independently).
Unfortunately, although we came close to finding it an ideal home before a difficult party tangential to a deal scuttled the sign's relocation, we were unable to find an appropriate location. We want to thank Andy Kaplan and everyone at Rockland Capital, who not only gave us *every* opportunity in the last year plus to find a new location for the sign at no cost but also looked himself. We regrettably have to agree with him that the best solution at this late time was to find it a new home at Provenance Salvage, whom Andy has reached an agreement with to display the sign under condition that it not be re-sold.
However you viewed the sign--as art, as kitsch, as borderline obscenity--it was undoubtedly part of the neighborhood's fabric, a reminder of an '80s era of East Passyunk that we are lucky to still drawn upon, and a conversation piece that reminded us to keep things weird on East Passyunk. While we look forward to the new building that will replace the windowless shell at 1843 E Passyunk Avenue, that sign will be missed dearly and not forgotten.
Excuse me while I mourn the sign's passing the only way I can think of: listening to Philadelphia's own Pissed Jeans, who named their third album after that weird, wonderful sign.