Owner of landmark firehouse to meet with civic group

A new demo notice has been posted on the South Philadelphia building, but the New York company has responded to requests to discuss the future of the site.


A new demolition permit has been posted on the late-19th century firehouse building at Reed and South Water Streets, but the owner of the property has responded to neighborhood requests for a meeting.


The former Engine 46 firehouse is an architectural landmark in the Pennsport community, and in its more recent incarnation was a popular steakhouse until it closed in 2006. Demolition permits for 1401 South Water Street, adjacent to the Riverview movie complex on Columbus Boulevard, were filed in January and February and updated in June. The permits were temporarily removed, but appeared again last week on the building.


The Pennsport Civic Association and the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia made repeated attempts to contact the owner of the property, Cedar Riverview LP of Port Washington, N.Y., to learn what was planned for the site and whether at least parts of the firehouse would be preserved.


Those calls went unanswered until last week, when Councilman Mark Squilla received a call back from Cedar Riverview, explained Dr. James Moylan, president of the civic group.


“Cedar promised not to demolish the building until a meeting is held with the neighbors and Councilman Squilla, which will be within the next few weeks,” Moylan said.


The current notice on the building says the structure will be demolished “on or after 7-30-13.” A demolition permit holder has a one-year window to take action at a property.


Pennsport Civic hopes to learn that Cedar plans “another adaptable business that will be part of the neighborhood,” Moylan said. “We are trying to emphasize to all developers that it’s better to talk to the community and be a part of it.”


The building was erected in 1894 and is one of the last High Victorian-style firehouses in Philadelphia. It was occupied by Engine 46 Fire Company until 1957, when the company was disbanded. From 1996 to 2006, it was repurposed as a popular restaurant, Engine 46 Steak House.


The firehouse looks like a Flemish-style castle, with its crenulated fire tower that rises above Interstate 95.


“It is one of the most iconic firehouses in the city, certainly, and is highly visible and recognizable,” said Ben Leech, director of advocacy for the Preservation Alliance.


Contact the writer at ajaffe@planphilly.com.

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