Yesterday, a judge decided that a court decision upholding the right of the current owner to a demolition order issued to the previous owner of the Church of the Assumption is moot. Though the language is somewhat ambiguous, it does appear that preservation activists will get another chance to preserve the landmark church.
Current owner John Wei's plans to demolish the church will need approval from the Historic Commission: that means that Mr. Wei will need to prove that preserving the church is a financial hardship in order to get permission to tear it down.
The former owner, Siloam, a social services agency, managed to prove that preserving the church was a hardship to them, but they then sold it to John Wei instead of tearing it down.
Though the judge's language is ambiguous, preservationists are optimistic about what her ruling means. "The way I read this, the clock has been reset," said Andrew Palewski, who has led the campaign to save the church.
Developer John Wei did claim to try honoring the community's wishes and looked into selling the church. At the beginning of this year, Eric Blumenfeld (the current owner of the Divine Lorraine) expressed some tentative interest in buying the landmark.
· Historic church gets reprieve on demolition [Philly.com]
· Commonwealth Court rules Assumption case moot, orders Common Pleas to dismiss Siloam appeal [Plan Philly]
· All Church of the Assumption Posts [Curbed Philly]