It’s true that Philadelphia boasts numerous edifices that outshine the former New Macedonia Church at 875 Corinthian Ave., but that doesn’t mean we won’t be sad to see it go. About half a year ago, we told you that developers had purchased this building that’s up the block from Eastern State Penitentiary and down the block from Girard College, and we were hopeful that adaptive reuse would be in store. We were realistic in forecasting the situation though, recognizing that the building was not designated historic and that demolition was the likely outcome.
Sure, a condo play would have been a nice touch, and we’ve seen time and again that buyers in Francisville have a huge appetite for condo units. But demolition and construction of townhomes were always going to be the most profitable approach, and according to a reader, that’s exactly what’s in store for this property. We don’t see any permits thus far, so we’ll classify this as a rumor at the moment, but it would come as no surprise to get confirmation that this is indeed the plan.
According to the reader, the plans call for five homes, a move that could only be accomplished by running the homes across the northern or southern side of the property and leaving a walkway or a drive aisle running perpendicular to Corinthian Avenue. The density wouldn’t trigger a zoning refusal, as the property is zoned for multi-family use, but we’d think that a drive-aisle and a curb cut would require a trip to the community and the ZBA. We frankly have no idea how the community will respond to the plan, nor do we know whether the developers will see pushback because they’re tearing down a former church as part of their project.
Hey, we get it. Neighborhoods change and old buildings are replaced with new buildings all the time. Still, almost every time we learn about new homes replacing old churches, we always feel a sense of loss, both of a connection to the history of our built environment, and of architectural diversity that makes a neighborhood more pleasing. We know it’s not practical and certainly not financially feasible to save every old church in town, but it still seems to bum us out every time.