Thursday, September 3, 2015

City Dems vacating Walnut St. headquarters after 60 years

Get out the moving boxes.

City Dems vacating Walnut St. headquarters after 60 years

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Get out the moving boxes.

Philadelphia’s Democratic Party is selling its four-story headquarter building at 1421 Walnut St. - the party’s storied home for close to 60 years.

Oh, if walls could talk.

The building was purchased in the early 1950s by former Congressman and Democratic Party Chairman Bill Green, Jr., the grandfather of current City Councilman Bill Green. The door to one of two basement vaults Green installed is still there.

But recently, much of the space has gone unused, occupied by dust and old unmarked film reels, as well as locked file cabinets that have not been opened in years. Campaign stickers on some furniture include “Keep Philadelphia Goode” and “Dukakis for President.”

The party, which plans to relocate by Jan. 1., is reportedly getting nearly $2 million for the building, all of which will be poured into an investment of some kind, with the interest accumulated used to pay rent for a new party headquarters.

That new headquarters — with a waterfront view — will be at 7 N. Columbus Blvd., near La Veranda Ristorante.

The new digs aren’t large enough to accommodate meetings of the Democratic Committee’s 69 ward leaders - those meetings instead will likely occur at various union halls - but it is a less congested area with more parking available.

The new owner of 1421 Walnut St. will be Pearl Properties, which owns several other buildings on the high-traffic Center City block.

President James Pearlstein said he is planning to gut and rehabilitate the entire building, and make the first floor retail.

As for the Democratic Party, chairman Bob Brady doesn’t intend to stay put at the new location for long. His real goal, probably three to five years away, is to find a way to buy and renovate one of the Fairmount Park houses as a permanent party home.

As for giving up 1421 Walnut, Brady spokesman Ken Smukler said, “I think he sees it as a new chapter.”

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The Philadelphia Inquirer's Chris Hepp, Tricia Nadolny, Julia Terruso, and Claudia Vargas take you inside Philadelphia's City Hall.

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