After enduring years of decay, the imposing Armory building on Broad Street has been purchased by a developer who wants to turn it into apartments. (UPDATE: Nope, they’re going to tear it down instead.)
The Passyunk Square Civic Association and the South Broad Street Neighbors Association are jointly hearing a presentation from the developer at Methodist Hospital, Morgan Conference Room, on Feb 19.
So, now, for a history lesson.
The building, at 1221 S. Broad St., was built in 1886 for a National Guard regiment, which vacated the building in the 1980s. The Tolentine Community Center began renting it from the state, running a summer camp and a popular bingo game out of it. Tolentine bought the building in 2003, for peanuts, er, $106,246 with restrictions that it be used for “community and social service programs only” and that it couldn’t be resold, says Hidden City, which provided a thorough history of the building you can find here.
Tolentine moved to its current location at 11th and Mifflin, which is best known for a Bingo sign and as a place to vote. Meanwhile, the armory continued to deteriorate, with part of the rear roof caving in and windows breaking left and right. Tolentine couldn’t afford the $4 million needed to repair the building (that’s it?) and sought help in selling it. But those restrictions prevented a developer from coming in to buy it.
Enter state Sen. Larry Farnese. Flying Kite reported last February that Farnese introduced legislation to remove the restrictions on the building. We’re assuming that passed, since a developer is now seeking to convert it. Finally.
We haven’t been able to find a purchase price because the city records still say Tolentine owns it. The good news is that it’s already zoned residential, but the bad news is that it’s RSA-5, aka rowhouses. So that means variances and potential battles with neighbors over density. Of course, this could be a game-changer for South Broad, so here’s hoping.
We’ll keep you updated.
CORRECTION: The details of the zoning meeting have been corrected.