Sunday, December 28, 2014

New Offer for Boy Scouts Building

Mayor Nutter said he will review a proposed $1.5 million bid from a local philanthropist for the city-owned Boy Scouts building.

New Offer for Boy Scouts Building

Mayor Nutter said he will review a proposed $1.5 million bid from a local philanthropist and real estate entrepreneur for the city-owned Boy Scouts building.

Nutter said he had just heard about the offer Tuesday morning and did not yet know any of the details.

In September, the city had reached an agreement to sell the Logan Square building to the Boy Scouts Cradle of Liberty Council for $500,000 and forgiveness of about $960,000 in legal fees.

The legal fees stemmed from a U.S. District Court jury verdict in June. Philadelphia lost the suit, which stemmed from the city’s efforts to evict the Boy Scouts from the building over the Scouts’ national policy prohibiting gay people from joining.

Federal law allows the winning side in a civil rights case to bill the losers for costs.

On Tuesday, Nutter said the litigation and proposed settlement had to be taken into consideration in reviewing Mel Heifetz’s deal.

“It’s more complicated than sending us a check and a letter,” he said.

Heifetz, whose offer was first reported by the Daily News, said he was moved to bid to make a point about discrimination.

“I'm sure there are thousands and thousands of kids around this country that have been discriminated and thrown out of the Boy Scouts because they have been called gay,” said Heifetz, a former Eagle Scout.

If Heifetz purchased the building, he would donate it to a charitable group that does not discriminate.

Heifetz owns the Alexander Inn and more than 150 Center City apartment units. He also paid off the $274,000 mortgage of the William Way Community Center, which serves the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

As part of his proposal, Heifetz said he would accept a deed restriction prohibiting construction of any structure that exceeds the height and footprint of the current building.

Neighbors have been concerned that a sale of the building would risk a high-rise or some other development there.

Sam Little, president of the Logan Square Neighborhood Association, said he had not had time to review Heifetz’s proposal.

In connection with the settlement between the Boy Scouts and the city, Councilman Darrell Clarke had introduced legislation allowing the sale of the building. 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.
 

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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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