When John Wei, a Chinatown-area developer, acquired the Church of the Assumption—the historical house of worship on Spring Garden Street that's been the subject of a massive preservation effort—he said he'd try to honor the wishes of the neighborhood if it was financially feasible. The neighborhood association had been trying to save the building from demolition, and Wei's statement offered some hope.
But when a demolition notice turned up on the church's front doors, it was clear Wei had other plans. Now, after a fierce media outcry, a flurry of legal activity and a last-minute stay of execution for the building, Wei seems to but cutting his losses. He's having Colliers sell the property for $2.1 million, and there are already rumors of an interested buyer.
According to PlanPhilly, Divine Lorraine owner Eric Blumenfeld has expressed interest in the building but isn't sure if it's viable for restoration. From PlanPhilly:
"The rumors are probably about me," Blumenfeld said, "but they're rumors." He added, "If there's a way that my involvement could help the community and somehow lead to the preservation of the building, I would be happy to be involved."
Previously, we suggested a Howard Hughes-like genius-lunatic should buy the church and save it. Blumenfeld doesn't seem like the type who'd sequester himself in a room obsessing over germs, so that's an improvement right there.
If the buyer is preservation-minded, Wei's divestment of the building could be good news for those who want to save it.
Tomorrow is the L&I hearing on the Church's demolition at 3 p.m.
· Colliers 'informally marketing' Church of the Assumption for $2.1 million [PlanPhilly]
· Church of the Assumption archives [CPHI]