HEY YOU: Save This Firehouse—Quickly

 

Come on and take your best shot, let me see what you've got | Photo: Bradley Maule

Come on and take your best shot, let me see what you’ve got | Photo: Bradley Maule

After a closed-door meeting today with members from District Councilman Mark Squilla’s office, the Pennsport Civic Association, and Cedar-Riverview LP, the historic Engine 46 firehouse on Front Street remains endangered, now with an even greater urgency.

Cedar had quietly pulled a demolition permit in February, but a series of media stories, including Hidden City’s, drew attention to the Dutch/Flemish Revival firehouse built in 1894. Cedar wants to know where all this interest has been in the seven years since the Engine 46 Steakhouse closed.

Citing the repointing of brickwork and an overhauled roof, Cedar claims they’ve actively and aggressively tried to make use of Engine 46, even hiring a brokerage firm to find a tenant who would specifically fit the case, but they’ve had no takers—even after all the “free publicity” given to the building in the past six months. Needless to say, they also have no plans to designate the building as historic.

Engine 46, Reed Street elevation, circa-Bart Blatstein signage | Photo: Bradley Maule

Engine 46, Reed Street elevation, circa-Bart Blatstein signage | Photo: Bradley Maule

James Moylan, president of Pennsport Civic, says, “there’s nothing disingenuous about what Cedar told us,” recognizing that Cedar’s job is to rent the space they own. “[But] if you’re going to subtract something this good, you’ve got to add something back that’s good.”

“At the end of the day,” says Councilman Squilla chief of staff Anne Kelly, “they own the building, it’s not [designated] historical, and they have a valid demolition permit.” Kelly added that the councilman wants to see the building preserved, but it’s ultimately up to the tenant that Cedar lands.

To that end, Pennsport Civic wants to help. With a non-binding arrangement, Pennsport Civic has agreed to mitigate communication with Cedar-Riverview for prospective uses. “We’ve tried to encourage them to be a participant in the neighborhood, so we’re doing our part to help by vetting requests that might come in,” Moylan says. “A butterfly museum might not fly, but a microbrewery or a Marc Vetri, Stephen Starr type restaurant could be great.” Prospective tenants should email pennsport@aol.com or visit the Pennsport Civic Facebook Page.

Cedar did not provide a timeframe for which they’ll entertain this process, but Moylan indicates, “they’re not likely to demolish starting tomorrow.”

Squilla chief of staff Kelly says, “if they can get a tenant for it, they’ll obviously keep the building.”

But the time to find that tenant is running out. A demolished firehouse (and adjacent game store) would mean a blank footprint, which could prove a lot more marketable to Cedar. If you’ve got an idea for Engine 46—one that will generate revenue—Pennsport Civic would like to hear from you.

About the author

Bradley Maule is co-editor of the Hidden City Daily and the creator of Philly Skyline. He's a native of Tyrone, Pennsylvania, and he's hung his hat in Shippensburg, Germantown, G-Ho, Fishtown, Portland OR, Brewerytown, and now Mt. Airy. He just can't get into Twitter, but he's way into Instagram @mauleofamerica.



4 Comments


  1. That movie theater complex, in fact that whole area of Delaware Avenue, is aching for a reasonably priced but excellent restaurant. Bone Fish and California Pizza Kitchen are two chains that come to mind — because both are very good and reasonably priced. A Starr restaurant would be too expensive, they always are. And, as the empire grows, the quality has greatly diminished at each new place. (Sorry. But true.)

    Or another stellar local place is Nomad Pizza (7th & Bainbridge), or perhaps another famous and popular Food Truck is ready to go bricks and mortar. It\’s got to be one ready for the volume and high level of service and turnover necessary to get people out to films on time.

    (The restaurant Engine 46 many moons and a big fire ago (ironic), was not good at all — and that\’s why it failed. It was not that there was not demand for a great spot for dinner and a film.)

  2. Hello Everyone,

    My initial thoughts (without having seen the space, which I hope to see soon) are to refit it with an organic food market. With the changing demograpics of Pennsport as well as consumers\’ desire for locally sourced organic foods, I think this might be the perfect fit. Does anyone know who the leasing agent is, and has anyone actually seen the space and could confirm that a market could work here?

    Thanks.

    Peter Crimmins

    • There are and have been for many years, information signs on and around the building / complex, listing how to contact the owner. No mystery, no hiding who they are.

      They\’re in the business of filling their spaces, so are easily contacted:

      http://Www.cedarrealtytrust.com

      That has all the information you need to reach the appropriate individuals for lease information.

      If you have a solid, credible, financed and ready to go business, they will respond.

      Best of luck

  3. Peter, if you have a serious interest, please email pennsport@aol.com and they can give you more information. I haven\’t been inside in quite a few years (the restaurant closed in 06), but I remember the space being a bit odd. A lot of the seating was upstairs. That is probably one of the big reasons no one else has rented the property. I truly hope somebody can save this building. It would be a travesty to see it demolished simply to make space.

Leave a Reply

Comment moderation is enabled, no need to resubmit any comments posted.

 

Recent Posts
Ground Broken On Reuse Of Old Spring Garden School

Ground Broken On Reuse Of Old Spring Garden School

September 26, 2016  |  Morning Blend

North Philadelphia eyesore being converted into 37 units of subsidized housing, Fishtown entertainment complex opens, and Kenney the pedestrian champion > more

The Tale Of Catfish And Waffles

The Tale Of Catfish And Waffles

September 23, 2016  |  Harry K's Encyclopedia

Long before chicken and waffles took hip restaurant menus by storm Philadelphia was famous for the meal's precursor, catfish and waffles, served at inns and taverns on the banks of the Wissahickon Creek and the Schuylkill River. Harry K. sets the table and serves us up a heaping plate of local culinary history > more

Requiem For A Moderne Gem, William Penn Annex Post Office

Requiem For A Moderne Gem, William Penn Annex Post Office

September 22, 2016  |  Vantage

Contributor Ann de Forest delivers a eulogy for the decline of civic architecture and the closing of an iconic post office on East Market Street. > more

Residential Towers To Connect Old City With Northern Liberties

Residential Towers To Connect Old City With Northern Liberties

September 22, 2016  |  Morning Blend

Apartment high-rises planned for East Callowhill, Little Pete’s replacement moves ahead, adverse possession in Fishtown, conserving INHP’s bronze statues, and Clarke defends low-density urban development > more

Planning Commission Scoffs At Bill To Increase Parking Minimums

Planning Commission Scoffs At Bill To Increase Parking Minimums

September 21, 2016  |  Morning Blend

Chilly reception for Blackwell’s parking proposal, Historical Commission committee supportive of designating three Baptist churches, Saint-Gobain gives $700K for LOVE Park, and the artistic filling of some South Philly potholes > more

A Look At Philly's Smallest (Official) Neighborhood

A Look At Philly’s Smallest (Official) Neighborhood

September 20, 2016  |  Morning Blend

Strolling through West Shore, when Philly was addicted to “artificial ice,” Snyder Plaza gets a colorful paint job, and expanded food options on Market > more