After a year of debate over the fate of the Christian Street Baptist church, the 19th-Century building’s time has officially come.
On Monday, Philly.com reported that developer Ori Feibush, who currently owns the building, has started tearing it down. The building’s cupola had been removed by Monday, with more demolition slated for today, Philly.com reported. Feibush declined to comment on the demolition Monday.
The church may have been spared had it made it to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places, but it did not receive enough votes during a meeting last year.
“It’s a heartbreaking loss, but in the final analysis, it was the Historical Commission’s failure to designate that doomed this adorable historic church building,” Paul Steinke, executive director of the Philadelphia Preservation Alliance said in an email on the demolition Tuesday.
The news marks the beginning of the end to a long debate over the building, which has been going on since the church congregation was unable to maintain its upkeep and listed it for sale last summer. Feibush was under contract to buy the building almost immediately, and announced plans to tear it down in order to make way for two townhouses with four floors and eight residential units.
There was a lot of pushback from the community and preservationists, like Steinke, who reached out for support from Philly City Councilman Mark Squilla, former Mayor Wilson Goode, Bella Vista neighbors, and Mayor Kenney, he said. However, the efforts were to no avail.
Feibush has sold the space to an unnamed buyer, who requested that it be demolished, Steinke said. Once the demolition is complete, the property will be turned over to the new owner.