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.

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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.

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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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