The Stokes House, a 19th century stone farmhouse in Holme Circle, offers a rare peek into the area’s more rural past, standing alone among the neighborhood’s mid-century houses. Over the years, the Stokes family sold off pieces of their for development property, and recently Samuel “Buzz” Stokes seriously considered razing the house in favor of a multi-family development. But now, NEast Philly reports that BSI Constructors purchased the house from Stokes.
NEast Philly explains: Stokes was unable to care for the rambling property and instead decided to attend to his legal fees accrued in the corruption trial for former Pa. Rep. John Perzel, in which Stokes pleaded guilty to helping divert state money to Perzel’s political funding. BSI has hired Perzel, Stokes’ brother-in-law, as a consultant. You might recognize Parsons for his work at Island Green Golf course, numerous charter schools and the Holy Family University proposal for Liddonfield. BSI, unlike Stokes, hopes to keep the house standing but has no plans for its reuse. Sadly the building is in bad shape. John Parsons, of BCI, told the Holme Circle Civic Association (HCCA) that he estimates that $400,000 worth of restoration work could be needed to rescue the building from its termite infestation and deteriorating masonry. The house is not designated historic, so demolition is a possibility.
In 2010 Stokes proposed demolishing the house in favor of building 12 two-family houses, which was not well-received by the neighborhood. Parsons said BCI doesn’t have plans for the site, but that they would prefer to restore or redevelop the property in a way that neighbors would welcome.
Just what kinds of development Holme Circle residents want could be an important thing to start talking about soon. Community Planner Mike Thompson was also at the HCCA meeting last week and told residents that in advance of the District Planning process (starting in a couple of years) he could help set up a steering committee now to identify challenges and opportunities in neighborhoods to shape the plan.
Head on over to NEast Philly for video and more: New owner for Stokes property just as Planning Commission enters Holme Circle [NEast Philly, March 5, 2012]