It’ll be several more months before Queen Lane Apartments in Germantown is demolished and a new low-density development starts rising in its place.
The Philadelphia Housing Authority must first get a demolition-approval letter from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, permits from the city and prepare the 16-story high-rise for implosion before it can come down.
PHA officials expect those tasks to be completed by October. If everything goes as planned, the demolition would occur the same month on either a Saturday or Sunday.
Construction on the $22 million project is scheduled to begin about a month after the tower is demolished and last a year.
The timeline was announced during a Thursday night community meeting inside Mt. Moriah Baptist Church during which PHA officials and some neighbors celebrated that construction was finally on the horizon.
“It is phenomenal,” said Michael Johns, PHA’s senior executive vice president.
Long time coming
More than two years ago, PHA first presented its plans to replace the property along the 300 block of W. Queen Lane with 55 rental units.
Not long after the agency initially 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.
PHA paid for a pair of archaeological surveys to determine the boundaries of the Potter’s Field. The agency also executed a “programmatic agreement” with HUD, neighbors and other stakeholders.
The legal document, finalized Feb. 20, spells out what actions will be taken going forward if any historic resources are found either during additional archaeological digs, demolition or construction.
To date, no human remains have been discovered at the site and nothing has indicated that the burial ground extends beyond the roughly two-acre footprints found on a pair of historic site maps.
Plans to remember the past
For now, PHA plans to commemorate the Potter’s Field area with a marker of some kind.
The plot may be further developed down the road.
“We have to be proud of ourselves for the power we have brought to this process,” said neighborhood activist Yvonne Haskins.