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Mayor Kenney issues statement on Toll Brothers’ plans for Jewelers Row

“I share the frustration of the Philadelphians.”

News of the Jewelers Row development saga reached the New York Times in an article yesterday, perhaps prompting Mayor Jim Kenney to issue a statement on the matter the next day after staying mum on the matter.

In the article, we learn a little bit more about the proposed timeline of the project.

Toll Brothers plans to demolish five three- and four-story buildings erected in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to build a 16-story condominium tower. It has promised to preserve the appearance of the street by building a new facade on the site of the demolished buildings. Demolition is scheduled to start in mid-2017, and construction is expected to take about two years.

News about Tolls Brothers’ plans broke in mid-August. Preservationists and members of the community swiftly put together a petition against the demolition and have filed multiple appeals and historical nominations to save the properties. Most recently, the Zoning Board of Adjustment voted to reject the appeals.

Today, Mayor Kenney released the following statement, published here in full:

I share the frustration of the Philadelphians who have called out in recent weeks for historical protection of Jewelers Row. Regrettably, we have reviewed the current law at length, and the developer has proceeded in accordance with City Code.

However, I have spoken with representatives from Toll Brothers, and I asked them to go above and beyond what the law requires in preserving the historic nature of these properties. I strongly requested that they preserve the buildings' second and third floor facades, and I would also ask that they adopt the recommendations of the Civic Design Review Board. They have given me and Councilman Squilla their word that they are committed to maintaining Jewelers Row as a historic, cultural gem for future generations of Philadelphians to enjoy.

Moving forward, there is no question that we have to increase resources to protect Philadelphia's historic buildings. We expect to introduce legislation on that matter in the coming weeks.

Toll Brothers has yet to release their design proposal for the tower, which has to go through the Civic Design Review.