The contention over construction on Jewelers Row in Center City shows Philadelphia's planning, zoning and preservation agencies are "out of sync" with the needs of our historic city, the leader of the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia told the New York Times. A day after the story ran, Mayor Jim Kenney said he has the developer's "word" it will preserve the historic street as a "cultural gem" in the city.
The battle over the buildings erupted this past summer when merchants along the 700 block of Sansom Street learned Toll Brothers Inc. planned to demolish several properties to make way for a 16-story condominium project.
The developer told the Philadelphia Business Journal in August it plans to work with businesses so the residential building "is respectful of the history of Jewelers’ Row while rejuvenating it for the future."
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But Toll Brothers could move forward with its original construction plans since the zoning board last week declined the Preservation Alliance's appeal against the development and, as the mayor said, "the developer has proceeded in accordance with the city code."
Paul Steinke, the leader of the alliance, told the New York Times the Toll Bros.' project serves as a warning that "we are not taking care of our historic buildings nearly as well as we should," and that the departments overseeing construction in Philadelphia, along with his organization, are "out of sync with contemporary needs in a historic city that’s undergoing a building boom."
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