When the embattled Church of the Assumption belonged to the nonprofit Siloam, the Philadelphia Historical Commission granted demolition approval because of financial hardship, meaning Siloam didn't have enough money to get the church into habitable shape. When the church got a new owner, John Wei, the assumption was he'd also have to prove financial hardship to get renewed demo approval from the Commission.
But it didn't turn out that way. The Commission contends—for the first time, apparently—that the hardship applies not to the owner but to the building itself and "its feasibility for reuse by any potential, reasonable owner."
So here's what we're thinking: What about an unreasonable owner? What if some Howard Hughes type were to come along with millions (billions?) of dollars to invest in the church's rehabilitation? The church couldn't possibly retain its financial hardship designation then. So, if you're out there, Preservationist Obsessive Strange Person With Lots of Money, now is the time to come forward.
· In Assumption Case, Hardship Precedent Raises Legal Questions [Hidden City]