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New rock club, House of Blues poised to open in Philadelphia

Ever wonder if this town is big enough to support another big concert venue, let alone two? Pretty soon, we'll know the answer.

Ever wonder if this town is big enough to support another big concert venue, let alone two? Pretty soon, we'll know the answer.

The Bowery Presents, a New York-based concert promoter and club operator run by (among others) former Live Nation exec Jim Glancy, has taken a long-term lease on the big building at 1026 Spring Garden St., the former Spaghetti Warehouse. If all goes well with their Liquor Control Board application, BP will open a new rock club on the site in the fall.

There's also a huge, 3,000-capacity House of Blues entertainment venue coming to the waterfront area, near the SugarHouse Casino. That's if City Council concludes that the project, which David Grasso (owner of David Grasso Holdings Development Co.) has been striving to realize for several years, won't negatively impact nearby residential areas.

As the concert company has recently done in Portland, Maine, and Boston, Bowery Presents has enlisted the aid of a local promoter, R5 Productions' Sean Agnew, who has a strong relationship with up-and-coming bands and bleeding-edge concertgoers, and an interest in expanding beyond his current venue limits. (R5 does all the shows in the basement and chapel of the First Unitarian Church, plus a scattering of events at Johnny Brenda's, the Barbary, Kung Fu Necktie, the Starlight Ballroom and occasionally co-promotes at World Cafe Live, the Tower Theater or Academy of Music.)

With a patron capacity of at least 800, the new Bowery Presents venue on Spring Garden Street - reportedly to be called Union Transfer - will compete most directly with the Trocadero and TLA in size and potential ticket gross. But with The Bowery Presents' new Northeast corridor multi-night buying power, its Philly club is likely to also attract some touring bands who otherwise would land here in a larger venue such as the 2,500-capacity Electric Factory, the Larry Magid/Adam Spivak venue located a mere four blocks away.

(In their New York home domain, Bowery's empire includes the Mercury Lounge, Bowery Ballroom, Webster Hall, Terminal 5, Music Hall of Williamsburg and Wellmont Theatre in Montclair, N.J.)

Looking even more like an Electric Factory rival is the new House of Blues club in Fishtown.

It probably helped Grasso when Live Nation had a falling-out with Magid last year, as the concert behemoth no longer has access to the Electric Factory. So as owner of the House of Blues brand, Live Nation has finally made a deal with Grasso to transform a 7,600-square-foot warehouse at Richmond and Beach streets into a concert/theater/corporate event space with adjacent off-street parking for as many as 1,250 vehicles. That's if Grasso can close the deal with lot owners, evidently the last detail holding up City Council approval. A zoning variance allowing a nightclub in the area has already been granted.