The end of the hulking Willow Street Steam Generation Plant near the future Rail Park may be near.
The Inquirer’s architecture critic Inga Saffron reported last week that the two-person group Scolio Turco Inc. has begun the Act 135 process to take conservatorship over the industrial behemoth at 9th and Willow Street, which closed 27 years ago and has become quite the nuisance for the city and residents alike.
Joel (also goes by Joe) Palmer of Scolio Turco has experience with Act 135, which allows neighbors to band together to find a court-appointed conservator to take control of blighted properties. Scolio Turco recently unveiled their latest restoration of the Chinese Cultural and Community Center in Chinatown, which used the same state law.
The steam plant on Willow Street is currently owned by a Cherry Hill resident, according to Saffron, and has changed hands over the years. There have been requests to demolish the property multiple times, but the remediation efforts—it’s chockfull of asbestos—have proven quite costly. Palmer told Saffron that he thinks the efforts, which are all still in the beginning stages, will cost more than $1 million.
Whatever happens, a peek inside reveals just how much the steam plant has fallen into disrepair over the years. Local photographer Matthew Christopher, author of Abandoned America: Dismantling the Dream shared with Curbed Philly some of the interior photos he took a few years ago.
Based on his images, it’s truly in rough shape. “The inside of the building is a toxic mess of asbestos and a multitude of other chemicals,” he wrote on his website. “I didn't have a lot of time, as light was fading fast, and the mostly vertical and very cluttered interior of the building made it hard to find good angles to truly show it off. Nevertheless, the decayed engineering of the site was fascinating and I'm glad that I had the chance to visit it.”