In Norris Square, the gorgeous stone and spired St. Boniface Church was demolished in 2011, and has been replaced by seven new contemporary single family homes, which have nearly been completed on the 100 block of Diamond Street.

An old photo of the demolished church. Image from

These seven homes represent less than half of the number of homes originally planned for the site. Last fall, a compromise was reached to build only seven homes on the site, after Councilwoman Maria Sanchez moved to pass a zoning bill through City Council that would permit the construction of only single-family homes in the area. At the time, members of the Norris Square Civic Association (NSCA) feared the bill would prohibit the St. Boniface project, which had already been approved and largely financed. The compromise reached stated that seven homes would be constructed on the former church complex, 10 would be built on W. Susquehanna (a project we already covered), and that Councilwoman Sanchez would work with NSCA to find a site to house the 15-unit multi-family affordable-housing project originally planned for the St. Boniface complex. Does anyone have any info on the status of those 15-units?

Last fall

The new homes

From the perspective a potential buyer, the seven single-family homes are located right across the street from Norris Square park and about four blocks from the Berks El Stop. It’s got green space right across the street and nearby public transportation. That’s an attractive urban combination. So attractive, it seems, that it apparently trumps the beauty withheld in these old churches we keep knocking down all around town. And Norris Square represents Philadelphia development in a way. In the 1980s it was called Needle Park for its reputation for junkies. Like so many other parts of Philadelphia, it’s been cleaned up dramatically in the past decade or more. Is it only a matter of time before the gentrifiers start moving in? We shall see. And we’ll keep you updated about the rest of the project when we find out more.

–Lou Mancinelli