The Philadelphia Housing Authority will proceed with plans to demolish Queen Lane Apartments in Germantown and replace it with a 55-unit, low-density development.
It's been more than two years since PHA first presented its plans to redevelop the shuttered 16-story high-rise at 300 W. Queen Lane.
Not long after PHA met with residents, a Potter's Field was discovered beneath the site.
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The colonial burial ground — created for "all strangers, Negroes, and Mulattoes [who] die in any part of Germantown forever" — added a complex layer to a mandatory historical review.
On Friday, a crucial legal agreement between PHA, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, nearby neighbors and other stakeholders was finalized, according to PHA spokesperson Nichole Tillman.
The so-called programmatic agreement maps 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 maps of the site.
HUD can now give PHA the green light to prepare for demolition, though it won't likely happen until spring at the earliest.
The back story
At a HUD meeting in December, Michael Johns, PHA's acting deputy executive director for operations, told NewsWorks that the preparation process for demolitions typically takes three months.
At the request of residents, PHA agreed not to build on the Potter's Field, forcing the agency to alter its original design and conduct two archaeological surveys to definitively determine the boundaries of the 18th century burial ground.
Units will now ring the historic cemetery. It's unclear how the Potter's Field will be commemorated.
Construction is expected to take a year.