Boy Scout Building
Deal for city to sell Boy Scouts building in holding pattern
Boy Scout Building
When is a deal not a deal, or at least far from a done deal?
When getting it done requires City Council legislation and relieving the concerns of gay rights and civil liberties groups who believe the deal perpetuates discrimination.
In September 2010, the city agreed to sell the Boy Scouts headquarters on Logan Square to the scouts for $500,000 and forgiveness of about $960,000 in legal fees.
The proposed sale would have settled a federal lawsuit that Philadelphia lost after it tried to evict the scouts from the city-owned building because the group’s national policy prohibits gay people from joining.
But selling city property requires council legislation. Councilman Darrell L. Clarke had introduced legislation allowing the sale of the building. In an effort at compromise, Clarke's proposed ordinance would prevent the Boy Scouts from selling the building for 10 years and would require that outside groups be able to use it for various programs, including diversity education.
The bill went nowhere as the gay community and others pressured the city to appeal the lawsuit instead. They also argued that the sale price was well below the building’s market value.
In the meantime, Mel Heifetz, who owns several Philadelphia apartment buildings, offered to pay $1.5 million for the Boy Scouts property.
On Tuesday, Heifetz renewed his offer, but Mark McDonald, a spokesman for Mayor Nutter, said nothing has changed. The city believes it must honor the proposed settlement and cannot consider other offers.
Clarke, who is now president of City Council, says he has no immediate plans to reintroduce the necessary legislation.
“I was a little disappointed that we were unable to come to an agreement in the prior session,” Clarke said.
In hindsight, he said, he was probably a little naive about what it would take to make the sale go through.
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