A new housing unit is set to be developed in the Society Hill neighborhood in Philadelphia. However, their construction site is currently occupied by the St. Andrew’s Byzantine Ukranian Catholic Church. The church, which is located at 425-429 Pine Street and dates back to the mid-1800s, is set to be included in the main plans of real estate developer Mark Travis. The plans were recently accepted by the Philadelphia Historical Commission, and Travis is free to proceed with his redevelopment of the church, as well as the construction of a 7-unit apartment building in the rear of the structure.
Travis, who lives around the Church near Rittenhouse Square, has stated that he’s had his eye on remodeling and redeveloping the church for a long time. He has stated, “To see something like this, in an area like this, it’s something that could wind up in Architectural Digest,” Travis said. “We don’t have enough of that in the city. What we’ve had until this point is just people renovating old buildings. That’s nice, but it’s really special if you can put your own fingerprint on it.” The new apartment building will be 3 stories tall and will have two units per floor, plus one unit in the basement. The units will sized between 643 sqft and 987 sqft. Rent for these units will be as low as $2,800 per month and as high as $3,500 per month. The single-family home within the church is set to be a three bedroom and three bathroom home, sizing up to be 4,758 sqft.
There has been criticism of the development, as a large portion of the church’s rectory building will be required to be demolished to make way for new construction. The Society Hill Civic Association and the Philadelphia Historical Commission have been the most vocal critics, with both claiming that this iteration of the plans do not respect the historical context of the building’s architecture. Travis has adjusted his plans accordingly, mostly to fit the Historical Commission’s desires. The rear of the church will now be made of brick instead of metal, the windows added to the church will be fine-tuned, and the 7-unit apartment building has been slightly shortened so that it does not overshadow the church’s structure. An advocate for preservation in Society Hill, Mary Tracy, was quoted as saying, “We’re very supportive of the reuse, and even the density, but we need to have it look the best that it possibly can be”.
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