As the West Poplar and Callowhill neighborhoods have gentrified in recent years, the eastern section of Spring Garden Street has seen some changes as well. Many of those improvements have been thanks to the efforts of Arts + Crafts Holdings, a developer and property owner which has purchased and renovated numerous properties in the area, like 990 Spring Garden and the former Reading Railroad office building at 915 Spring Garden. Despite all the work that Arts + Crafts has put into the area, there’s one nut they’ve been unable to crack to date- the former Reading Railroad station at the northwest corner of 9th & Spring Garden.
This station dates back over a century, having once been the second to last stop on a Reading Railroad line which terminated at Reading Terminal at 12th & Market. Perhaps you’ve heard of its famous market? Those trains ceased operations when the Market East Station opened in the 1980s, though the elevated viaduct remained. A section of said viaduct has been repurposed into the Rail Park in Callowhill, with plans to add future phases on currently overgrown sections of the viaduct. The old Spring Garden Station could be a tremendous entry/exit point for a future phase of the Rail Park, but only if it’s still around.
In January, Arts+Crafts Holdings partnered with Scioli Turco to use Act 135 to take conservatorship of the property to perform repairs, and ostensibly bring it back to active use. Or as a more modest goal, perhaps they could just make it look not so terrible. Anyway, the owner of the property is a descendant company of the old Reading Railroad which is now primarily an entertainment company but still has several of its old real estate holdings. They are fighting the Act 135 effort tooth and nail, having filed a response in federal court and as of today, have a demolition permit in hand for the property.
The Act 135 petitioners aren’t giving up, however. They have countersued Reading International and asked for the federal judge to issue an injunction that prevents the demolition of the property until their Act 135 case can be heard. They are hoping that the judge will not only issue the injunction, but will also allow them to perform repairs on the building so that it can be preserved. They are currently trying to rally preservationists to preserve the building and also may launch a GoFundMe, in case they need to file appeals to higher courts as the case moves along.
The owners of the property must post a demolition notice and won’t be able to do anything for 21 days- so nothing will happen here for at least three weeks. Beyond that, the corporate ownership entity is clearly hoping that the courts allow them to proceed with their demolition, while many locals are hoping that the court provides the time necessary to take action on the Act 135 petition. It’s possible we’ll see a wrecking ball here before the month is out and it’s also possible the Act 135 effort will prevail, and that this building will get renovated and reborn. We’d say the most likely outcome, at least in the short term, is that things will drag along for the next couple years across multiple courts before anything gets decided for sure. Here’s to hoping the building sticks around, if for no other reason than the owners have been such terrible stewards for their property for all these years that we don’t think they shouldn’t get to to decide whether it’s repaired or demolished.