Domb questions Kenney math on selling West Philly property

Philadelphia City Councilman Alan Domb says he's not convinced the city will break even after selling the West Philly location and the Center City spot where police headquarters is now.
 (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Philadelphia City Councilman Alan Domb says he's not convinced the city will break even after selling the West Philly location and the Center City spot where police headquarters is now. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Philadelphia will “break even” by selling the site that was supposed to be the new police headquarters, according to Mayor Jim Kenney. He said he reached his conclusion by factoring the sale of the “Roundhouse,” the existing police headquarters, as well as other properties.

Some current and former city officials don’t agree.

Philadelphia City Councilman Alan Domb said he is not convinced sale of the West Philadelphia location and the current police headquarters will reimburse the city for renovations on what was expected to be the city’s new police headquarters. The building at 46th and Market was selected when Michael Nutter was mayor.

“To say they were selling other properties to make up for the loss, that doesn’t make any sense,” Domb said.  Proceeds from “selling those properties should go to the new police headquarters, not the one that was a failure.”

Former City Controller Alan Butkovitz said using property sales to cover the loss isn’t good accounting.

“Mayor Nutter shouldn’t have made a commitment at the end of his administration, but, once it was made, Kenney shouldn’t have made a joke it’s only 50 million dollars we want to go here instead of there,” Butkovitz said.

The Kenney administration wouldn’t provide the sale price for the West Philadelphia property. City spokesman Paul Chrystie said “no sale has been completed, no price has been agreed upon, and no final development plan is in place.”

He said officials will release the sale price when the deal is finalized.

Philadelphia has spent “$52.4 million to buy and stabilize 4601 Market St. and to prepare it for future use. The city never expected to fully recoup the dollars invested into 4601 from the sale of the building,” Chrystie said. “Nonetheless, we anticipate that, over time, the substantial private investment and return to the city from the economic development and job creation at that site will be beneficial to the city.”

Domb says he’s considering a City Council hearing on the matter in the fall.

A private developer plans to turn the West Philly site into a health campus. The new police headquarters will be put in the old Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News building on North Broad Street.

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