Historic preservation group appeals city panel ruling on former Robinson store in Market East

The former Robinson department store building at 1020 Market St. behind billboards advertising the Fashion District Philadelphia project across the street.

The Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia is appealing a city government panel’s ruling against historical protections for the former Robinson store building at 1020 Market St. in Center City’s Market East area.

In a filing late last week with Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, Preservation Alliance attorney Henry Schirmer alleged that the Board of License and Inspection Review was acting outside its jurisdiction when it ruled in November against maintaining the building’s historic designation.

The city’s Historical Commission put the building on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Properties in July 2016 in response to a nomination by the Preservation Alliance.

The building’s owners, mall landlords Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust and Macerich, appealed the designation the following month, but the venture later came to an agreement with city officials to have the case heard by the L&I review board instead.

That board voted last month to sustain the appeal by the building’s owners, who are also in the process of redeveloping the Gallery at Market East shopping mall across the street into what’s being called Fashion District Philadelphia.

The owners have argued that they need the ability to raze the structure and adjoining ones to attract tenants to the site.

The Preservation Alliance’s appeal of the board’s decision was filed days after it was informed that the city would not fight the ruling. The city and review board are named as appellees in the group’s filing.

Spokespeople for the city and for the Fashion District venture declined to comment.

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