Jan 9: Germantown Special Services District revival | Convention Center signage | Tower Place opens | Assumption demo stay, stays | Save the Roundhouse

Good morning, Streeters. Here’s your morning Buzz from Germantown, North Broad Street, the Assumption hearing, and a bit of love for the Roundhouse: 

Councilwoman Cindy Bass wants to reactivate the Germantown Special Services District, but making the case to property owners could be an uphill battle, reports the Daily News. The tax to support the district will likely be 10%-15% of the area’s real estate taxes. Property and business owners are cautiously optimistic about the changes that could come from cleaning and parking improvements but say the difference will have to be visible.

Should the Convention Center have huge digital signs outside its North Broad Street entrances? This side of the building was intended as the “grand” entrance to the Convention Center, but the Convention Center Authority board thinks it’s hard to tell, the Inquirer reports. The board wants to put digital signs above the entrances that would announce the Pennsylvania Convention Center and offer changing displays for the major shows. They could also be used for revenue generation.

In nearby North Broad Street news: The ribbon was cut on Tower Place, developer Bart Blatstein’s $70-million conversion of the state office building at Broad and Spring Garden streets yesterday, reports the Inquirer. But this is only phase one of the planned Tower Place development for Bartistan – Blatstein’s concentrated holdings on this stretch of North Broad Street: In five years Blatstein plans to embark on Tower Place’s second phase, a new residential high rise on the site set above two stories of commercial space.

Church of the Assumption lives to die another day. The L&I Review Board extended the stay of demolition for the embattled historic church on Tuesday, reports PlanPhilly’s Jared Brey. The Board punted the question back to the Historical Commission for its “opinion on questions raised.” These questions focus on the validity of the demolition permit held by the property’s owner, John Wei, which are based on the hardship finding approved by the Historical Commission during the previous owner’s tenure. The Historical Commission’s Executive Director, Jonathan Farnham, told reporters after the meeting, “I’ve never seen anything like this from this board.” The commission has no specific process in place for a situation like this. Their next meeting will be Friday, January 11 at 9am.

Save the Roundhouse! PlanPhilly’s Alan Jaffe reports that historic preservation graduate students at Penn are working to build support for the curvy, modernist Police Administration Building. The Roundhouse may not be endeared to Philadelphians who associate it with crime and punishment but it’s also a very important example of Philadelphia School modern design and an engineering marvel for its time. Should the police move (as planned) to their new headquarters at 4601 Market, the Roundhouse could be vulnerable to demolition. The building was named to the Preservation Alliance’s Endangered Properties List this year but Penn students have worked on the building for a studio course, developing a nomination for the building to be added to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places and mounting a social media campaign to save the Roundhouse.

The Buzz is Eyes on the Street’s morning news digest. Have a tip? Send it along.

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