A major historic building in South Philly is long overdue for redevelopment, but will it happen anytime soon?

Mt. Sinai Hospital, on the 400 block of Reed Street, was once one of the biggest and busiest hospitals in Philadelphia, towering 146 feet above the Pennsport neighborhood. Completed in 1930, the tower was constructed to end overcrowding at the hospital’s smaller and older buildings on the same site.

Former entrance

From a distance

During the last quarter of the century, the hospital declined. It was sold to Graduate Health System, which was later taken over by Allegheny Health System. Allegheny closed down the hospital less than a year after it fell under its control.

Since it was shut down in 1997, this grand art deco building has sat vacant. The building is currently owned by Mt. Sinai Partners LP, a group of local private investors who acquired the 268,000-square-foot hospital complex in 2002 for $700K. The property includes several older buildings as well as a large and unfortunate-looking addition that was built in 1987.

Mostly regrettable addition

In 2006, Mt. Sinai was nearly converted into 201 condominiums and 27 townhouses. Manhattan-based development company Polygon Partners had a contract with the owners to develop the property and approval from the Zoning Board of Adjustments. The development was to be called The Sophia and had condo units priced in the low $200,000s and townhouses starting in the low $500,000s.

We reached out to Tony Falcone of M.S. Fox Real Estate, the listing agent for the property, to find out why the deal six years ago never came to fruition and what may be on the horizon for the property.

Polygon Partners was days away from settlement when at the last minute, one of Polygon’s investors withdrew from the project, leaving the group substantially undercapitalized, according to a member of Mt. Sinai Partners, whose comments were relayed by Falcone.

“They had asked for and received several extensions to complete their due diligence but were unable to close. We were shocked and saddened given the time, expense and overall effort they invested in the pre-development process,” the member said.

The member said there has been some recent interest in the property, with several prospects taking tours, but no offers yet. The property was under agreement last year, the member said, but it turned out the purchaser presented fraudulent checks and the matter was turned over to the FBI.

Financing for such a large-scale condominium project is very challenging at present, but the member said that lenders are cautiously coming back. The owners see the highest and best use of the property being residential, with a possible office or retail component.

Another angle

Yet another view

“We are hopeful for the future of this great property. We have kept the grass cut, the sidewalks shoveled and salted, the real estate taxes and insurance paid, and have men on site regularly to insure it is safely secured from looters and trespassers,” they said. “We are responsible stewards trying to keep the buildings sound for their eventual renovation.”

The property is currently listed with an asking price of $8 million. Hopefully, a developer will step in soon and transform this eyesore into something that benefits the neighborhood.

For an extensive look at the hospital’s history, click here.

–Al Harris