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Inga Saffron: Philly's Historic Buildings Need More Love

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The Inquirer's architecture critic Inga Saffron has some advice for mayor elect Jim Kenney: Don't treat historic buildings in Philly as hardships. In her recent column Saffron says moves by the Nutter administration don't exactly support our recent World Heritage City designation, pointing out that in the past eight years a "paltry" 64 properties were officially deemed historic. She goes on to focus on three historic properties whose futures may be in jeopardy: the Rittenhouse Coffee Shop, the Warwick Apartment House, and the Oliver H. Bair Funeral Home. Southern Land Company bought this trio last February and have filed an economic hardship application with the Philadelphia Historical Commission.

Saffron writes:

The last few years have been disastrous for Philadelphia's architectural patrimony. Grand stone churches are falling like autumn leaves. This week, it was a stately sanctuary on 12th Street where the barrier-busting singer Marian Anderson gave her first performances. The city's stock of notable buildings is being steadily eroded by neglect, indifference, and, especially, the housing boom, with its insatiable appetite for buildable lots. […] If Southern Land doesn't want to spend its own money to renovate the historic buildings, how about giving them to Project HOME for affordable housing? Southern Land would get the tax write-off. The city would preserve a pocket of affordability in an increasingly pricey neighborhood. Philadelphia's historic buildings would get the respect they deserve.And then we might live up to our new status as a World Heritage City. You can read Saffron's full column here, where she goes on to discuss how Kenney's transition team could indicate whether preservation has a place in Philly's future.

·Changing Skyline: We can't treat our historic buildings as hardships [Philly.com]
·Is it demo time for the Rittenhouse Coffee Shop? [Curbed Philly]
·The Forgotten Warwick at Rittenhouse Square [Curbed Philly]
·Philadelphia named first World Heritage City in the U.S. [Curbed Philly]