Last Gasp For Two Historic Banks In Kensington?


Bring on your wrecking ball? | Photo: Peter Woodall

Bring on your wrecking ball? | Photo: Peter Woodall

Two historic Kensington banks may be one step closer to the wrecking ball. The Women’s Community Revitalization Project (WCRP), which owns the banks at the corner of Front and Norris Streets, has received federal tax credits for its proposed low-income housing development on the site.

The project, known as the Nitza Tufino Townhomes, will receive just under $800,000 in low-income housing tax credits, and is to consist of 25 apartments and a community center with 10 on-site parking spaces. Construction would involve the complete demolition of the Ninth National Bank and the Industrial Title and Savings Trust Company, both of which were erected in the 1880s and recently listed on the Kensington Textile National Historic District.

The funding was announced by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) on Thursday. In all, PHFA allocated $16 million to 17 applicants, eight of them in Philadelphia, as part of its annual funding cycle for urban areas.

Among the Philadelphia recipients, the largest was the 94-unit development at 8th and Arch Streets proposed by Project H.O.M.E. Also receiving tax credits is the Arab-American Development Corporation, also in Kensington, whose Tajdeed project at Oxford and Cadwallader Streets is entangled in an eminent domain controversy.

WCRP’s funding approval follows the Zoning Board of Adjustment’s approving a variance for the townhomes last August. The neighbors’ appeal of that decision to the Common Pleas Court is now scheduled to be heard in June.

About the author

Christopher Mote covers stories of preservation, planning, zoning and development. He lives in South Philadelphia and has a special fondness for brownstone churches and mansard roofs.

Send him a message at: motecw[at]hotmail[dot]com


  1. WCRP is a joke . Revitalization ? There is a over abundance of mty lots in this city , not to mention lots that have not paid their taxes in years . Sometimes decades , why do they need to tear down these two structures ?
    The PHFA should be prohibited from giving any grants where historic preservation is in question . AGAIN !!
    All these mty lots , where is the legislation giving the mayors or office or the historic society the power to force these developers to trade their historic buildings for some of the THOUSANDS of mty lots or delinquent property’s in the city ? Hell…… Make it a two for one lot trade , or three or four ! Who the hell is gonna complain ?oh ! That’s right , the slumlords who own these property’s and the lazy and talentless developers who put up these BLAND AND BORING BOXES . How can you put the word REVITALIZATION in your name when you sit on these buildings for years and make no real attempt to rehab or save them . How can you use that word when you want to tear down the community’s HISTORY ? Let’s think here for a minute ! Low income …… Does anyone believe this area will ever have the money to build ANYTHING worth looking at , or might want to save in the future ? I got nothing against low income housing as long as its designed well . Tearing down these structures just leaves the area looking like any other place in any other city . Nothing special or different to see , nothing to inspire you . Another box on another lot ! I pass by the former school at eighth and lehigh and watch as they tear it down , to be replaced by a save a lot and burger king . What a waist and another nail in the coffin of Germantown ave just a few blocks away . Pretty soon Philly will look like some third world city with people
    living in ugly houses on ugly streets waiting for the government to hand out the swill .

    • You’ve pretty much just summed up the sad state of affairs of historical preservation in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, the Historical Commission has become a total farce. For as long as Ive lived here, I cannot think of one building they’ve managed to save or protect from demolition. What’s even more discouraging is that these two banks are just a few of many historically significant structures that are currently facing the wrecking ball.

  2. Another disgrace

  3. Small correction – PHFA is the state entity that allocates FEDERAL tax credits. They are not state credits.

  4. Who wants to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to restore a bank to its former grandeur? It has been abandoned for decades. It may be an old bank but it is functionally obsolete and needs to be replaced with suitable construction. I would not say the Historical Commission is a total farce as they do have some teeth to stall and delay projects plus get into arguments with homeowners on the quality of material to be used in new windows.

    About five years ago, a 300 year old house built with additions to serve as a doctors office in Fox Chase closed up and it and an adjoining house was purchased by Wawa to improve sight lines of its Oxford Ave store with gas pumps. Those buildings block the view and customers can be seen jamming on brakes to turn right to Wawa. Wawa had to get permission from the Historical Comission on demo of two houses it had purchased, they only permitted demo of one and left standing the 300 year old house. Five years later, 4 realtors cannot find a buyer for this 300 year old house structurally compromised by additions. Lack of common sense by the Historical Commission because the Fox Chase historian objected to the demo plan. Now this ia a good opportunity for Wawa to get demo permit as nobody wants to put a business in that house. Doctors want plenty of parking and ease of access and a new doctors office is located just outside Philly in a renovated strip mall next to a cemetery on SR232 Huntingdon Pike.

    • Jamming on breaks you say? What is this world coming to!

    • Do you people realize the Colossium is over a thousand years old right? Or that many buildings in Europe are many hundreds of years old, yet have been updated and are used by people to live and work in everyday. This stupid idea you have that things cannot be repaired and reused because they are old or in bad shape is something that only exists in America, where were spit on the past in exchange for a future made of cheap siding and plywood.

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