Paul Steinke, the former general manager of the Reading Terminal Market who ran an unsuccessful campaign for a City Council seat in 2015, will be the next director of the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia.
Steinke has served as chairman of the Alliance’s board of directors and as treasurer for Preservation Pennsylvania, a statewide preservation advocacy group. He will replace Caroline Boyce, who was tapped to run the Preservation Alliance in 2013.
Steinke, whose City Council campaign was focused on tax reform and job creation, has advocated for preservation as an economic development strategy as well as a matter of protecting historic resources. In a column in the Philadelphia City Paper (RIP) in 2003, he called for the Philadelphia Historical Commission to be expanded so it could create more historic districts and provide educational programs, which is part of the Commission’s Charter-mandated mission.
“Any collection worth having needs to be maintained,” Steinke wrote. “This is especially true for Philadelphia’s historic neighborhoods, fragile creations that are critical to the future of the city. That we have devoted so little to protecting them is not only puzzling, it is something that demands corrective action in the form of expanded resources for historic preservation and a more activist Historical Commission—before it’s too late.”
When Steinke wrote that column 13 years ago, the Historical Commission had five employees. Today it has six. It’s been a frustrating run for preservationists, some of whom see the city letting developers have their way with the place while historic buildings are demolished or left unprotected.
While he was still a City Councilman, Jim Kenney had introduced a bill that would have given the Historical Commission a half-million-dollar funding boost. Many preservationists hoped that initiative might augur an increase of general-fund dollars when Kenney became mayor. But his first budget includes no such boost. Officials say the Administration is in the early stages of considering structuring an increase to permitting fees that could bolster the Commission’s budget.
Mary Werner DeNadai, an architect and current chair of the Preservation Alliance board, said Steinke was selected “by acclamation.”
“[The board] came up with some rather consistent agreement about who that next person might be,” DeNadai told PlanPhilly on Tuesday. “We felt it was important that it be someone who is already knowledgeable about Philadelphia or from the region … someone who has vision, someone who takes action, and someone who is recognized and highly respected. And who did we come up with? Voila. An ideal candidate that we feel is going to take the organization into its next level.”
Caroline Boyce, who is moving on to do consulting for nonprofit groups, will stay with the Alliance through June. Steinke will take over sometime during the summer.