As the Queen Lane Apartments creep closer towards becoming a pile of rubble, efforts to prepare the site and the Germantown neighborhood for its impact continue.
Between now and Sept. 13, NewsWorks will present a series of stories about the project.
They will include what the development means for the neighborhood, what long-term residents think, the environmental impact and, among many others, the day-of logistical ramifications.
Today, we start with a roundup of the major stories NewsWorks has written during a now three-year saga to get to this point.
1. Queen Lane Apartments will come down soon, July 19, 2011
PHA officials meet with Germantown residents and present plans to demolish the outdated, 16-story building and replace it with 55 brand new rental units. The agency says the project as a better fit for the area, noting that the new development’s design will “blend seamlessly into the fabric of the neighborhood.”
2. Residents prepare for demolition of Queen Lane Apartments, Oct. 24, 2011
PHA officials announce that demolition will begin in March 2012 and that construction will start a few months later in August. The news comes as tenants continue to evacuate the tower.
3. Debate continues over Queen Lane Apartments demolition, Dec. 19, 2011
Neighbors criticize the project for not having a home-ownership component and voice concerns about the loss of a longstanding, on-site playground. Residents also bring up a Potter’s Field that sits beneath the site and ask if PHA can re-configure its design so that units aren’t built within the boundaries of the African-American burial ground.
4. PHA revises development plans to honor historic Germantown burial ground, Jan. 6, 2012.
To the surprise and delight of many residents, PHA announces that it has altered its design to make the Potter’s Field an open space. The project’s 55-units will now ring the burial ground on three sides. Early discussions about a dedicated memorial also get underway.
With the debate over the future of Queen Lane Apartments heating up, NewsWorks explores the history of the Potter’s Field in Germantown as well as the term itself and the increasingly important role it’s playing in PHA’s plans.
6. Demolition D-Day passes and the Queen Lane Apartments still stand, Aug. 15, 2012
With a mandated historical review of the site still underway, PHA delays demolition. It’s still unclear how many graves, if any, from the Potter’s Field sit beneath the site. An above-ground archaeological survey has found three anomalies that warrant a closer look.
7. PHA’s Queen Lane Apartments plan gets city zoning-board approval, Nov. 27, 2012
PHA’s revised design plan gets zoning approval from the city. Demolition and construction, however, are still not in sight. The definitive dimensions of the Potter’s Field have yet to be determined. That question and others about the burial ground must be answered before HUD can give PHA the green light to move forward with demolition and construction.
With the start of construction still not set, PHA officials tell residents that they may move to gut and rehab the existing building instead of moving forward with the new development. Neighbors gathered at the meeting are outraged. Officials note, among other things, the need to get people off the agency’s long waiting list and into one of its units.
9. No human remains found at Potter’s Field site, final PHA decision pending, March 20, 2013
The results of an archeological excavation of the site reveal that no human remains exist outside of the known boundaries of the Potter’s Field. The discovery is welcome news to PHA. If the burial ground’s footprint was larger than expected, the project may have been jeopardized.
10. PHA director: Queen Lane Apartments may not be torn down after all, Sept. 5, 2013
Kelvin Jeremiah tells NewsWorks that the agency is now “seriously considering” scrapping its plans for the low-rise development. He says gutting and rehabbing the existing building would be the cheaper and faster way to get residents into units. He says a decision will be made one way or the other in October, when the agency is once again eligible to apply for much-needed tax credits.
During a 16-day partial government shutdown, essentially all employees of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) were furloughed. As a result, work tied to a critical legal agreement involved in the Queen Lane Apartments process was halted until the sun set on the shutdown.
A crucial legal agreement between PHA, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, nearby neighbors and other stakeholders was finalized, according to PHA spokesperson Nichole Tillman.
Corliss Gray couldn’t be happier that construction vehicles will soon start rumbling and beeping across the street from her Germantown home. “I welcome the noise,” Gray said, “because it’s progress.”
The Philadelphia Housing Authority is finally preparing to demolish Queen Lane Apartments, a 16-story high-rise building in Germantown with a checkered past. For this, agency officials and nearby residents couldn’t be happier.
The Philadelphia Housing Authority is in the midst of prepping Queen Lane Apartments for a seconds-long implosion tentatively slated for the fall.
Officials said the implosion is expected to start at 7:15 a.m. The ensuing dust will be under control by late morning, less than an hour afterwards in some spots, they said.
17. New date set for Queen Lane Apartments implosion, Aug. 15
At a public meeting inside Mt. Moriah Baptist Church, the city’s director of emergency management said that Mayor Michael Nutter approved a request to move the building’s implosion forward by one day.