Kenney Signals A Potential Breakthrough On Jewelers Row (Updated 10:45AM)

October 12, 2016 |  by  |  Buzz  |  , ,

 

Responding to “the frustration of the Philadelphians who have called out in recent weeks for historical protection of Jewelers Row” in a statement issued this morning Mayor Jim Kenney has indicated he is negotiating with officials from Toll Brothers to preserve the second and third story facades of 702-710 Sansom Street as part of their proposal to build an apartment tower on the historic street.

The Mayor’s statement comes as 704 and 706 Sansom Street, two of the buildings Toll has proposed to demolish, come before the City’s Historical Commission for historic designation. If designation is granted, these buildings would be protected from demolition. However, the Mayor’s statement indicated that he believes that Toll has a legal right to demolish them, “in accordance with City Code.”

“I asked them to go above and beyond what the law requires in preserving the historic nature of these properties,” he said. “They have given me and Councilman Squilla their word that they are committed to maintaining Jewelers Row as a historic, cultural gem for future generations of Philadelphians to enjoy.”

Photo: Michael Bixler

Signs in the window of 702 Sansom Street opposing suburban real estate developers Toll Brothers’ proposal to demolish 1/8th of Jewelers Row for the construction of an apartment tower. | Photo: Michael Bixler

“It’s great to see the Mayor speaking out on this issue and taking a leadership role in preservation. We welcome that,” said Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia executive director Paul Steinke this morning. “The ball is in the developer’s court. We wait for them to come forward with specific plans to show the public how they might include the existing buildings into the development.” The Preservation Alliance has led the opposition to the proposed demolition of 702-710 Sansom Street and sponsored the nominations of 704 and 706 Sansom to the Historic Register.

Toll officials told the New York Times “it will build the tower 15 feet back from the existing line of buildings along the brick-paved street and put a loading dock and trash facilities on an adjoining block to help preserve the neighborhood’s character.”

Noting the historic, cultural, and architectural value of the existing Jewelers Row buildings, Steinke told Hidden City that his organization intends to continue to pursue historic designation of 704 and 706 Sansom Street. “The Historical Commission would be the appropriate venue for this developer’s plans in order to ensure there is meaningful and significant preservation as part of the development process.”

The Mayor also indicated that he has asked Toll Brothers to follow recommendations issued on the project by the City’s Civic Design Review Board.

Steinke says he applauds the involvement of “qualified professionals” at the Historical Commission and Civic Design Review Board to “help shape the project” so that it “truly does, as the developer claims, respect the history and culture of Jewelers Row.”

In the coming days the Mayors Office will issue legislation to “increase resources” for historic preservation in Philadelphia, the Mayor’s statement said.

About the author

Hidden City co-editor Nathaniel Popkin’s latest book is the novel Lion and Leopard (The Head and The Hand Press). He is also the author of Song of the City (Four Walls Eight Windows/Basic Books) and The Possible City (Camino Books). He is senior writer and script editor of the Emmy-winning documentary series “Philadelphia: The Great Experiment” and the fiction review editor of Cleaver Magazine. Popkin's literary criticism appears in the Wall Street Journal, Public Books, The Kenyon Review, and The Millions. He is writer-in-residence of the Athenaeum of Philadelphia.



Leave a Reply

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

Recent Posts
Unlisted Philadelphia: Atlantic Snuff Company

Unlisted Philadelphia: Atlantic Snuff Company

February 17, 2017  |  Unlisted Philadelphia

Architectural illustrator Ben Leech spotlights unique and significant buildings not protected on the local register with his series, Unlisted Philadelphia. In this installment, a High Victorian in Chinatown that's still up to snuff > more

Inside The Empty, Gilded Halls Of Elkins Estate

Inside The Empty, Gilded Halls Of Elkins Estate

February 16, 2017  |  Last Light

Photographer Kris Catherine gives an exclusive look inside the opulent mansions of Elkins Estate > more

Dial Up For The Latest Election News

Dial Up For The Latest Election News

February 14, 2017  |  Harry K's Encyclopedia

Harry K. dials up the Evening Telegraph Information Bureau, a pilot communications service in 1905 that provided Keystone Telephone customers with news and information at a moment's notice > more

La Salle University Threatens Germantown Landmarks

La Salle University Threatens Germantown Landmarks

February 9, 2017  |  Soapbox

On Friday, the Historical Commission will consider legal protections for two historic Germantown homes. Owners La Salle University will oppose the nominations to retain their right to demolition. Arielle Harris makes a case for saving these two Wister family properties and reveals La Salle's long tradition of razing neighborhood landmarks > more

Paging Dr. Typewriter: Healing Old Tech On Fabric Row

Paging Dr. Typewriter: Healing Old Tech On Fabric Row

February 8, 2017  |  Walk the Walk

Bryan Kravitz brings old Remingtons back from the dead at his repair shop in Mt. Airy and typing salon in South Philly. Joe Brin has the story > more

An Indelible Corner Of The Eraserhood

An Indelible Corner Of The Eraserhood

February 7, 2017  |  The Shadow Knows

The Shadow heads down to the corner of Ridge Avenue and 11th Street where an attractive wire and steel warehouse stands out like a diamond among broken glass > more