Last week, preservationists and locals alike were outraged to learn that Jewelers Row, a block of buildings between 8th and Sansom streets that dates back to the 1800s, is under threat of demolition with plans for Toll Brothers to build a 16-story residential building.
The news was first reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jacob Adelman, who wrote that Toll Brothers was granted a zoning permit for the 80-unit building last Wednesday. L&I Inspections has until September 1 to review the developer’s application to demolish five properties on the row: 702-710 Sansom Street.
Hidden City Philadelphia reports that the city says they have "no choice but to approve" the demolition given that it is a by-right project; the area is zoned CMX-5. The 21-day-review by the L&I does not include time to review the five properties’ historical significance.
Jewelers Row was first established in the 1800s as a street for engravers, jewelers, and artisans to set up shop. Today, it is the oldest Diamond District and second largest in the U.S. It becomes an especially popular spot when its iconic Seasons Greetings sign lights up during the holidays.
Since the announcement broke, preservationists have spoken out against the demolition, with a Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia petition garnering more than 2,500 signatures after three days.
The petition asks Anne Fadullon, the city’s director of planning and development, to stop the "destructive and outrageous land grab" and help the Toll Brothers find another site for the project. Fadullon said in a statement on Friday that she welcomes preservationists’ input on the project.