At around 6 p.m. Thursday, a dozen residents huddled with Philadelphia Housing Authority staffers outside of Mt. Moriah Baptist Church.
The gutted skeleton of the soon-to-be-demolished Queen Lane Apartments rose behind the group.
A photographer stood before them, there to capture a small piece of history before the fourth and final community meeting about the impending implosion got underway.
“The next [time] we meet, the high-rise will be gone,” said Michael Johns, PHA’s senior executive vice president for capital projects and development. “And you guys got us here.”
At 7:15 a.m. on Sept. 13, Queen Lane Apartments will be reduced to rubble after more than a half century of towering over Germantown.
The approximately 14-second implosion will come about three years after PHA first publicly presented the project to neighbors.
Not long after the agency met with residents, a Potter’s Field was discovered beneath the site. Neighbors wanted to preserve and honor the colonial burial ground created for “all strangers, Negroes, and Mulattoes [who] die in any part of Germantown forever.”
PHA ultimately agreed not to build atop of the cemetery, a decision which added a complex layer to a historical-review process that had to be completed before HUD could accept an application for demolition approval.
After the implosion
A new low-rise development featuring 55 rental units will replace the 16-story tower.
Construction on the $22 million project is expected to start sometime this fall and last a year.
The community — and PHA — couldn’t be happier.
As Thursday night’s meeting wrapped up, residents and agency employees patted one another’s backs for reaching this moment after what was, at times, a tough and contentious process.
“It’s been a long time coming and a blessing,” said Johns.