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Historic church in Philadelphia to be redeveloped

While the more-than-century-old Christian Street Baptist Church in an historic Philadelphia neighborhood started coming down in July, specific redevelopment plans remain uncertain. 

Developer Ori Feibush originally proposed building six $800,000 townhomes in place of the church. However, in June of 2017, it was nominated for historic designation. A preservationist activist also made a bid to save the 1890s structure, citing ties to the Italian immigrants who once filled the neighborhood.

While the Philadelphia Historical Commission supposedly designated the property as historic, the Philadelphia Inquirer said the designation was withdrawn amid confusion over its voting rules.

After considerable controversy, demolition finally began. But in mid-June, Feibush declared he was abandoning his previously-announced plans. 

In an email to the newspaper, the developer said the contract had been assigned to a new buyer, who would assume ownership after demolition is complete. 

At a recent neighborhood protest, one man living nearby told the Inquirer demolition will change the character of the Bella Vista area southeast of downtown. Robert Hornsby said he bought his property because of the neighborhood’s historical ties.

“To see those kinds of things be chipped away is a little sad,” Hornsby said. 

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