The elegant Church of the Assumption at 12th & Spring Garden will take a few more breaths as last month it was saved from the guillotine, at least temporarily.
In November, the Commonwealth Court of PA handed down a decision stating that the right to demolish the building, granted by the Historical Commission, was moot. The decision said that when Siloam sold the site to developer John Wei, they did so while a plea from the Callowhill Neighborhood Association to the Court of Common Pleas to overturn L&I's approval to demolish was still pending.
But that decision leaves a few questions unclear. The future depends on how Wei moves forward. Will he seek to pursue the current demolition permit and if he does, will it be in court? Or will he start the process anew, or perhaps try to sell the site or develop new plans?
Thus far, the Court of Common Pleas has not taken any action on the decision, according to Jon Farnham, Historical Commission executive director. As such, the Commission is in a wait and see mode, and will not interpret the decision unless it needs to.
“The ball will essentially be in the new owner's court,” said Farnham.
So until Wei, who has kept silent about any plans, does anything, the church will continue to stand. This marks another scene in the ongoing controversy to demolish the church. In September 2010, the Historical Commission voted six to five in favor of demolition. That sparked preservation efforts, which were organized and spearheaded by the CNA. Last year, attorneys for CNA argued the right to demolish was a moot point since it was granted on the grounds of hardship, and that Wei purchased the building with a knowledge of its condition. Wei purchased the building for $1.1M last July. In 2006, Siloam purchsed the site for $800K.
We will keep you updated as this story continues. But as we've said in the past, maybe here is another chance to save this building and turn it into one of Philly's most interesting breweries or apartment buildings, or perchance a performance space. What do you think the building could be turned into?