By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The battle continues over the 160-year-old Church of the Assumption on Spring Garden Street. The church, which has ties to two Catholic saints, got yet another stay of demolition yesterday. But the reprieve may not last for long.
The L&I Review Board heard arguments over whether the new church’s new owner — John Wei of MJ Central Investment — should be allowed to execute the demolition order given to previous owner Siloam. The Board kicked the can down the road to the Philadelphia Historical Commission.
“They sent it back to the historic commission and have left it to the historic commission’s discretion at this point.”
Sam Stratton represents the Callowhill Neighborhood Association, which is fighting to preserve 160-year-old church. He argued the Siloam got the demolition permit because it proved financial hardship. Stratton claims the new owner can afford to save the building. Wei’s attorney Carl Primavera disagrees:
“It’s millions of dollars you would have to stabilize it with a structural engineer and nobody’s going to finance it because you’ve got a vacant building with no reuse.”
The Historical society could decide the fate of the Church as early as this Friday.
The Church of the Assumption was consecrated by John Neumann, and was the site of Katherine Drexel’s baptism. Both Neumann and Drexel are now Catholic Saints.