Developer files appeal to halt demolition of Reading Railroad station

The owner of the former Spring Garden train station, once a stop on the Reading Railroad,  filed for permits to demolish the historic structure. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

The owner of the former Spring Garden train station, once a stop on the Reading Railroad, filed for permits to demolish the historic structure. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

A local developer has filed an appeal over a demolition permit sought by the owners of a former Reading Railroad train station on Spring Garden Street.

The dilapidated former station has been at the center of a conservatorship dispute seeking to compel Reading International — a legal successor to the former rail giant — to repair the structure. Instead, the California-based company, which primarily operates a chain of movie theaters but also inherited a portfolio of former railroad properties, abruptly sought to tear down the station.

Last week, developer Arts & Crafts Holdings, which owns several properties around the station, appealed issuance of the demo permit citing environmental concerns and the presence of a homeless population at the site, located at 901 Spring Garden Street.

“Tearing down 901 does not solve the problem. Reading needs to clean up and maintain their property and right-of-way,” said Kelly Edwards, who manages community relations for Arts & Crafts.

A spokesperson for the Department of Licenses & Inspections did not say when a hearing would be held. All permits have a 30-day appeal window, although the process is generally an uphill battle.

Still, Paul Steinke, executive director of the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia, said the process could buy more time to reach a compromise with the station’s owners.

“Any effort like this, that slows the process down, increases the likelihood that demolition can be avoided in favor of a better outcome,” he said.

Reading ceased rail operations in the 1970s. However, the former station sits amid a gentrifying neighborhood and near the first phase of the Rail Park, a quarter-mile stretch of the former elevated railroad that has been transformed into a public park. Planners hope the Rail Park can eventually span the entire three-mile railway. Efforts to contact Reading International for comment were unsuccessful.

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