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By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Philadelphia city councilman says he’s made some progress in the effort to save a 19th-century South Philadelphia firehouse from the wrecking ball.

First District councilman Mark Squilla says that after days of no contact, he’s finally been able to speak with the CEO of the firm that controls the old Engine 46 firehouse at Reed and Water Streets, near Delaware Avenue.

Residents nearby are up in arms because a demolition permit has been posted on the vacant site (see related story), though it has been unclear what the owner’s plans are.

Squilla says he has now been assured by Bruce Schanzer, CEO of Cedar Realty in New York, that no demolition is imminent because the firm has no tenant for the site.

And Squilla says he received Schanzer’s assurance that he’ll meet with the community before any demolition.

“He’s informed me that he would not do that until he’s met with me and the community, and that we will be able to sit down and talk to him before moving forward,” Squilla told KYW Newsradio today.

Schanzer did not return our call seeking comment.

Squilla hopes that dialogue could result in a compromise that would spare the building, which he says is much-loved in the community.

“It’s not only the character of the building, the architecture, but it’s what was inside: an old firehouse.  You know, the fire department and firemen are always important to the City of Philadelphia.  It just holds a special meaning in that community to people who live close by.”

The firehouse dates from 1984 and was shuttered in the 1950s.  It saw new life a decade ago as a restaurant.  Despite his conversation with the company, Squilla says, he’s continuing to explore questions about the legality of the demolition permit.


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