Church of the Assumption saved for now

The Church of the Assumption was built at 11th and Spring Garden streets in 1848.

By now, it’s not safe to assume anything about the future of the Church of the Assumption, the historic, twin-spired Spring Garden Street landmark and point of contention up for demolition the last two years.

After a new ruling by the city Board of Licenses & Inspections Review, which overrides an earlier decision by the city Historical Commission, the church gets a reprieve from the wrecking ball — for now.

“We’re very excited about the decision,” said Amy Hooper of Callowhill Neighborhood Association, which is among a coalition that has grown the past two-plus years since contractor Andy Palewski first discovered the church owner’s plans. “There’s a way to creatively solve the problem.”

But the biggest problem is money, of which the owner, nonprofit Siloam Wellness Center, has nowhere near the amount needed for complete renovations. That could cost as much as $6 million or $7 million for the AIDS services group that bought the church as part of a deal to also purchase an adjacent building.

And it’s not just cost. Demand for that kind of unique structure is not strong enough, said Siloam’s attorney Kevin Boyle, who also often represents the Philadelphia Archdiocese.

“There are plenty of church properties on the market, so if someone is inclined to choose a church property, they’re not going to choose this one,” Boyle said. “It’s not economically feasible.”

To the courts

Attorney Kevin Boyle alluded yesterday to a likely appeal in Common Pleas court, saying that whatever the ruling had been, the courts would have become involved. He also was pessimistic about the church’s future no matter who wins, predicting its demise either “eventually [from] Mother Nature or a direct order from


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