Council members seek new surcharge to boost historic-protection efforts

City Council members have introduced legislation aimed at increasing the budget for Philadelphia's Historical Commission so its staff can actively select and nominate properties for designation as historic assets.

The legislation introduced Thursday would tack an additional 25 percent charge onto building-permit fees for work at previously designated historical sites, city spokeswoman Ajeenah Amir said in an email.

The new fee would increase construction-permitting costs by $50, to $10,000 per project, depending on its square footage. About $350,000 is expected to be generated each year by the fee, to be used toward boosting Historical Commission headcount, she said. 

The measure was co-sponsored by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds-Brown, Councilman Al Taubenberger, and Councilman Mark Squilla. 

It comes amid calls to better preserve historic buildings in the city after luxury-home builder Toll Bros. disclosed plans to demolish several properties on Philadelphia's Jewelers Row to make room for a condo tower.