Sloan Mansion Days Are Numbered: Penn Can Proceed Without Permits, Says Historical Commission

 

Sloan 2

A hotbed of designated controversy at 40th and Pine | Photo: Michael Bixler

Advocates for the preservation of the Samuel Sloan-designed mansion at 40th and Pine Streets suffered a loss today. The Philadelphia Historical Commission voted five to three today in favor of allowing University of Pennsylvania, and their partner developers Azalea Gardens Partners, LP to proceed with demolition without obtaining building permits.

As we reported in December, Penn and Azalea Gardens requested recommendation from the Historical Commission’s Hardship Committee to have the condition removed, citing the cost of maintenance and potential environmental hazards the vacant building allegedly poses. The recommendation to remove the condition–with the stipulation that, should the building be razed, the property be landscaped and maintained until construction begins–was unanimously approved by the Committee, making the ruling today yet another predictable development in this embittered, eight year long legal saga. Preservationists worry that an amendment removing the condition would have set a lasting, detrimental precedent, clearing the way for fast tracking the demolition of buildings protected by the Philadelphia Historic Register when economic hardships are granted–the Levy House has been on the Register since 1973. Speaking on whether or not today’s proceeding is precedent-setting once the condition has been removed, Historical Commission executive director John Farnham maintained his opinion that this perception was, from a technical standpoint, without merit. Since hardship has already been granted, he said, demolition has effectively already been granted once permits are obtained too, and amending conditions are at the discretion of Commission. He also pointed out that no formal stay order was filed by the Woodland Terrace homeowners’ legal council, Paul Boni. “We did not seek a stay because we didn’t believe demolition was imminent,” said Boni. Although Penn’s attorney Mathew McClure stated that the building would not be demolished before litigation goes before the Commonwealth Court, this verbal agreement was not made part of the motion thus not legally binding.

An addendum to the ruling was introduced by the Committee that would exhaust Penn appeals for financial hardship, but this was ultimately voted down.

Oral arguments for appealing the ruling that grants the demolition of the Italliante mansion at 40th and Pine Streets go before the Commonwealth Court on Feburary 9th.

About the author

Michael Bixler is a writer, photographer, and managing editor of Hidden City Daily. He is a former arts and entertainment reporter with Mountain Xpress weekly in Asheville, North Carolina and a native of South Carolina. Bixler has a keen interest in adaptive reuse, underappreciated architecture, contemporary literature and art, and forward-thinking dialogue about people and place. Follow him on Instagram



1 Comment


  1. Robert Masciantonio

    The fact UPenn can claim hardship while sucking up 100k per student is laughable. Our cities historic commission is a joke.

Leave a Reply

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

Recent Posts
The Rise, Fall, & Revival Of North Broad's Opera Palace

The Rise, Fall, & Revival Of North Broad’s Opera Palace

June 14, 2018  |  Vantage

Rob McClung takes us on a journey through the turbulent history and present reawakening of the mighty Metropolitan Opera House at Broad and Poplar > more

A Brief History Of Race & Contested Space In West Philly

A Brief History Of Race & Contested Space In West Philly

June 11, 2018  |  Vantage

Mariam Williams dives deep into the social evolution of Malcolm X Park to unearth the history of race and economics within a neighborhood space > more

Italian Market Project Puts Fresh Eyes On A Philly Staple

Italian Market Project Puts Fresh Eyes On A Philly Staple

June 8, 2018  |  Vantage

The Italian Market Project mixes a walking tour with Philly-accented theater in a fun, immersive experience. Mickey Herr has the details > more

Taking History To The Streets With Preservation Activism

Taking History To The Streets With Preservation Activism

June 6, 2018  |  Soapbox

Ali Roseberry-Polier discusses civil rights history, selective public memory, and why she created an historical marker for a Black female activist who challenged segregation in 19th century Philadelphia > more

A Buzzy New Beginning For Poth Brewing Company

A Buzzy New Beginning For Poth Brewing Company

June 4, 2018  |  Last Light

Before renovations begin, Michael Bixler takes us inside the remains of Poth Brewing Company with this photo essay > more

One Smart Cookie: When Keebler Called Philly Home

One Smart Cookie: When Keebler Called Philly Home

June 1, 2018  |  Harry K's Encyclopedia

Girl Scout cookies: another city first! Harry K. gives a whirlwind history of America's favorite cake and cracker maker, Philly's own Keebler-Weyl Baking Company > more