With just weeks to go before the planned demolition of the Christian Street Baptist Church, developer Ori Feibush announced this week that the property will be changing hands.
Feibush told Philly.com in an email this weekend that the contract has been assigned to a buyer, who will take over the property at 1020-24 Christian Street after it is razed this summer. The buyer has not been named, and Feibush did not immediately respond to calls from Curbed Philly for further details.
The third party buyer required the demolition of the building, according to Paul Steinke, executive director of the Philadelphia Preservation Alliance. However, he said that he’s working with preservationists to try to save the structure. He said he’s called former Philadelphia mayor Wilson Goode, who has been involved in preservation efforts in the city, and that he’s eager to help.
“I don’t know if there’s anything that can be done to stop the demolition,” Steinke added.
The news marks the latest twist in the 19th-century church’s already convoluted story. The congregation listed the church for sale last summer, after finding that they were unable to afford the upkeep. Feibush had it under contract almost immediately, saying he planned to demolish it to make way for townhomes, much to the ire of local preservationists. The church was nearly placed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places—which would have spared it from demolition—but didn’t receive enough votes, and the plan for demolition went forward.
Most recently, Feibush brought his proposal to construct two townhouses, with four floors and eight residential units at the site of the former church, in front of the Bella Vista Neighborhood Association last month. Residents primarily took issue with the plan’s parking, which would amount to eight off-street parking spaces, accessible by a driveway off Salter Street. Neighbors were concerned about safety, and how construction and parking would affect driving in the area.
Bella Vista Neighborhood Association President Eugene Desyatnik said Monday that the group has not been informed about changes to the plan, but said that many residents wouldn’t be adverse to residential buildings at the site.
Feibush told Philly.com last week that asbestos remediation would start this week, with the church’s demolition to follow soon after.