Monday, March 14, 2011

Second Chance for the Church of Assumption

The Church of the Assumption on Spring Garden has received another stay of execution. Well, not exactly. Today's decision was passed off to Department of Licenses & Inspection. L&I's unsympathetic reputation towards historic buildings (and disregard for legal protocol) is disconcerting enough in itself. But Siloam, the agency that currently owns the historically significant property clearly wants nothing to do with the building. When initially given an estimate of $1.5 million just to stabilize the church, Siloam saught to demolish the building for a parking lot.

They have since hired consultants to point out the potential hazards in the dilapidated icon of Spring Garden.

Yeah. We know it's in rough shape. Do something with it or sell it.

Besides, no independent assessments of the building's condition have been made. Total estimates of more than $5 million allegedly required for the building's total restoration were made by consultants picked by Siloam.

During its maneuvering, Siloam has had 75 inquiries and 15 visits from prospective buyers, yet claims no serious offers have been made. The property is valued at less than $600,000, which will fetch you a modest McMansion in Cherry Hill. And not one serious offer has been made?

The goose with the golden egg will testify when the hearing continues on March 28th. The Clay Studio in Old City is looking for new home and would be eligible for credits towards the building's restoration. Representatives from the studio visited the property but were deterred by its imminent demolition.

In short: They want the building, not the property. So why, if 15 prospective buyers were shown the property, did Siloam claim that all prospective buyers were uninterested? Because if Siloam is allowed to move forward with their plans, the state is prepared to cover the cost of its demolition, and speculatively, Siloam wants its parking lot.

Yeah, Callowhill needs more parking.


  1. What $5 million was given to the church to stabilize it? I don't think that is accurate.