West Philly and Fishtown properties added to historic register

A flush row of late-19th century buildings at the corner of 36th Street and Lancaster Avenue in Powelton Village was added to Philadelphia’s register of historic places on Friday, but the owners have promised fight the designation in the courts.

Earlier this year, the city rushed to write a nomination for the buildings after learning that the owners were considering knocking them down and replacing them with student housing. Before that, Powelton Village Civic Association had been developing a nomination of its own. Last month, the Commission’s committee on historic designation recommended that the property be placed on the historic register. The full Commission voted unanimously to designate the buildings on Friday.

Carl Primavera, a lawyer representing the owners of the row, said he plans to appeal the decision.

“[The owners] feel that the entire designation process has really been retaliatory,” Primavera told PlanPhilly.

He said the purpose of the historic preservation ordinance had been abused to block a development the city didn’t want. Patrick Grossi, advocacy director for the Preservation Alliance, said the nomination had to do with nothing more than the historic value of the buildings.

Also on Friday, the Commission voted to protect the Edward Corner building at the corner of Frankford Avenue and Shackamaxon Street in Fishtown. The building, currently vacant and owned by developer Michael Samschick, who has occasionally sought to demolish it, was formerly a marine-supplies outpost.

Patrick Grossi said the building was not only notable for its iconic ghost signs, but also, “given its current state, it’s actually well primed for reuse.”

The Commission also voted to protect twin homes at 4300-02 Osage Ave. in West Philadelphia; Byberry Cemetery, a former burial ground for African Americans in Northeast Philadelphia; and a former doctor’s office at 2176-78 York St. in Fishtown attributed to architect Frank Furness.

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