Inspired by a reader tip, we took a trip up to the beautiful riverside neighborhood of East Falls the other week. 3460 Midvale Ave. was once the property of Redeemer Lutheran Church, which was closed after a sad and politically messy property rights battle between the congregation and the Lutheran Synod around 2008-2012. It ended with the Synod winning and the property being sold to developers. At the time, East Falls Local provided extensive coverage of the neighborhood dispute and also posted a good number of pictures of the interior of the church. In 2015, the new owners, HOW Properties, presented residential redevelopment plans for the building and the rest of the property which fronts W. Penn Street. Under the plan, the church is being repurposed as a 9 unit apartment building and 5 townhouses are getting built along W. Penn Street. The zoning variances that were requested for the development were eventually granted and the property has been under construction ever since.
The actual church building looks very much as it did when it was still a church. The W. Penn Street side of the property originally had a one story school building and a small playground. Here's what it used to look like back in 2014:
As you might be able to tell from some of the pictures above, the townhouses on W. Penn St. will have a garage included underneath each house which will be accessible by a drive-aisle in the back of the row of homes. These houses are going to be quite large compared to the other two-story housing on the block, so it will be interesting to see how they will look when they are complete and how much people are willing to pay for them. Another interesting facet to this project is that these new houses will be built within the East Falls Historic District. Unlike the Diamond Street Historic District in North Philadelphia, we don't think these new houses will replicate the style of the surrounding properties.
What we do know is that the old Redeemer Lutheran building will now be preserved for the foreseeable future instead of torn down. While it's always sad to see a congregation fall to the dynamics of changing neighborhoods, at least the physical reminder of this congregation's existence will remain in East Falls.