Contrary to what we reported in our last post, the doddering corpse of Assumption BVM may not yet be finished. From the man-in-the-know himself, Andrew Palewski:
As most of you know, I, and several neighbors placed the Church of the Assumption on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places last year. The owner, Siloam Ministries, had been very secretive about its plans to demolish the building but we found out in time to save it and the Historical Commission stopped the building from being torn down.
Now, Siloam is applying for “hardship” with the Commission, claiming that they don’t want the church, can’t afford to fix it, and that no one wants to buy it. Several people have tried to buy the church in the last year but the owner has been tactful in dissuading them from following through (e.g. they destroyed many of the interior elements just before one buyer was about to purchase the building in July 2009).
The Hardship Committee hearing will be held on Wednesday, September 8, at 1:00 PM in room 578 at City Hall. It is open to the public.
I strongly encourage anyone who wants to see this building survive to attend this hearing. A decision will be reached that will determine the fate of the landmark.
Apparently, the approval of the Historical Commission is only the penultimate hoop Siloam has to jump through. To outright earn permission to knock Assumption down, they need to prove one of three things:
1. that it is in the public interest to do so.
2. that the owner is suffering from financial hardship and that the property can't reasonably be sold.
3. that the building itself presents a hardship (e.g. it is a danger to the public)
It is the second one Siloam will attempt to demonstrate on September 8, although they claim to have enough ammo for both #'s 2 and 3. As previous press coverage notes, both claims are dubious.
We'll see how this plays out. Assumption surprised us last year, but even cats have only nine lives; sooner or later, pending a sale or Siloam's evacuation of the property, I suspect this church and the West Poplar NAC will run out of tricks.
And yes, as Andy requests, do attend the meeting if you can.