Saturday, April 19, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Battle to raze Penn-owned ex-nursing home moves to courts

Penn received permission to knock down the former nursing home it owns at 40th and Pine. Neighbors want to prevent the demolition.
Penn received permission to knock down the former nursing home it owns at 40th and Pine. Neighbors want to prevent the demolition.

The Italianate-mansion-turned-nursing-home-turned-vacant-shell is still standing at 40th and Pine streets, and next Wednesday, half of the legal battle surrounding its preservation will move into the Court of Common Pleas.

The arguments will center on an appeal of a Zoning Board of Adjustment decision to grant variances to developer Jonathan Weiss who, in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania, which owns the building, plans to tear down the historic building and build student housing in its place. Paul Boni, representing a group of neighbors who oppose the variances, and Matt McClure, representing Penn, will argue their sides before a judge Wednesday morning at 10 a.m., in Courtroom 426 in City Hall.

The battle is waging on two fronts. Neighbors are seeking to block not only the zoning variances, but have also appealed the Historical Commission’s finding of hardship for the property and subsequent decision to approve a demolition permit. That appeal took more than half a year to get through the Board of Licenses and Inspections, and it ended in a split 2-2 vote. Neighbors again appealed that decision—the tie favored the Historical Commission, and Penn—and arguments around the hardship finding are scheduled for February 13th, at 10 a.m., in Courtroom 426.

In the meantime, you can read the “Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law” from the Board of L&I Review case here.

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PlanPhilly.com  is dedicated to covering design, planning and development issues in Philadelphia. The news website is a project of PennPraxis, the clinical arm of the School of Design of the University of Pennsylvania. It is funded by the William Penn Foundation.

Jared Brey PLANPHILLY