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  1. #1
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    Thumbs down St. Boniface Demolition

    It is sad to see that such a beautiful building is being destroyed.

    Adiós, St. Boniface | Hidden City Philadelphia

    Does anyone know what will be built in its place?

    Also, please tell me someone is buying that stone up? It is extremely expensive to build out of that material in this day and age. Hopefully it can be recycled. And what about that stained glass?

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    Surprise, it's more affordable housing units and a "community center" for a park that's ringed with affordable housing units and underfunded rec centers!

    Amazingly NSCA said they just couldn't find a way to save this impressive historical structure. Never mind that their Director previously said that, given the chance, she would destroy Norris Square if it would make "her" neighborhood less appealling to "artists", and that a racial quota system for the neighborhood to preserve it's Puerto Rican majority would be desirable.

    So you see, there was no choice but to demolish the church to build...

    A New Life for St. Boniface :: Community Design Collaborative Blog

    Quote Originally Posted by RittenhouseGirl View Post
    It is sad to see that such a beautiful building is being destroyed.

    Adiós, St. Boniface | Hidden City Philadelphia

    Does anyone know what will be built in its place?

    Also, please tell me someone is buying that stone up? It is extremely expensive to build out of that material in this day and age. Hopefully it can be recycled. And what about that stained glass?

  3. #3
    Mayor of 3rd Street Outlaw Star's Avatar
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    Norris Square has been tight-lipped about plans, but one mockup I saw had it as an empty square, surrounded by the other St. Boniface buildings. A curious choice, since the whole complex sits across from a park.

    The availability of the stone depends on the opportunity salvage companies are given to work their magic. With some church demolitions--like Transfiguration of Our Lord--the whole operation takes place so quickly a lot of it goes to waste. Hopefully that's not the case here.

    As for the stained glass, that stuff's long gone. It always gets stripped out by the AD when a church closes, and sold off to the highest bidder.

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    Quote Originally Posted by thoth View Post
    Surprise, it's more affordable housing units and a "community center" for a park that's ringed with affordable housing units and underfunded rec centers!

    Amazingly NSCA said they just couldn't find a way to save this impressive historical structure. Never mind that their Director previously said that, given the chance, she would destroy Norris Square if it would make "her" neighborhood less appealling to "artists", and that a racial quota system for the neighborhood to preserve it's Puerto Rican majority would be desirable.

    So you see, there was no choice but to demolish the church to build...

    A New Life for St. Boniface :: Community Design Collaborative Blog
    WOW. It is hard to believe in this day and age that someone can get away with ethnicist motives like that. I wonder if anyone tried to help the German-American community in this same way when they were the majority group in this neighborhood, or the Slavic-Americans when they were a majority in Northern Liberties. Not a chance.

    Affordable housing sounds like subsidized housing to me, and that is a recipe for disaster. With so many large brownstones around that park that are still affordable, that plan sounds like total nonsense to me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Outlaw Star View Post
    Norris Square has been tight-lipped about plans, but one mockup I saw had it as an empty square, surrounded by the other St. Boniface buildings. A curious choice, since the whole complex sits across from a park.

    The availability of the stone depends on the opportunity salvage companies are given to work their magic. With some church demolitions--like Transfiguration of Our Lord--the whole operation takes place so quickly a lot of it goes to waste. Hopefully that's not the case here.

    As for the stained glass, that stuff's long gone. It always gets stripped out by the AD when a church closes, and sold off to the highest bidder.
    That does sound curious. And I hope they can salvage that stone somehow.

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    Well...back in the day most neighborhoods had ethnic associations that lobbied for handouts for their particular ethnic group to make it easier to get set up in their new country and for others to immigrate here. Ancient Order of the Hibernians, Sons of Italy, and other ethnic social clubs, Lutheran Assocs, Catholic groups etc. Not to mention the Irish taking over the Municipal govt in Phila for about a century.

    There are actually several Slavic ethnic clubs still in NL, although they've long since deviated from the industrial era mission of establishing a beachhead for immigrants in that neighborhood. It's obviously a little different than a civic assoc getting hijacked by a nationalist for sure, but the sentiment is nothing new, regardless of how you may feel.

    Quote Originally Posted by RittenhouseGirl View Post
    WOW. It is hard to believe in this day and age that someone can get away with ethnicist motives like that. I wonder if anyone tried to help the German-American community in this same way when they were the majority group in this neighborhood, or the Slavic-Americans when they were a majority in Northern Liberties. Not a chance.

    Affordable housing sounds like subsidized housing to me, and that is a recipe for disaster. With so many large brownstones around that park that are still affordable, that plan sounds like total nonsense to me.

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    Disgusting and sad. They are determined to destroy all the history of that neighborhood in attempting to forward a radical racist agenda. An organization with a radical social agenda and who are real estate developers should not be able to pretend they are a civic association.

    Amazing to look at the different path 19125 took from the area west of the EL. I understand protecting your own and building for your self but the extremity of Norris Square will ultimately be to their detriment

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    The demolition by neglect occurring throughout this city is painful and very difficult to endure. Only so many of these substantial edifices exist, built at the hands of master craftsmen whose artistry is lost using materials that can no longer be obtained. This is the architectural heritage that has been passed on to all of us collectively and it is being diminished irrevocably. St. Boniface and monumental churches like it constitute significant parts of the unique identity of our neighborhoods, yet thoughtless, shortsighted and ultimately disastrous policy decisions are causing the destruction of the physical fabric of those unique neighborhoods for which Philadelphians profess boundless pride.

    I understand that not every building can be preserved indefinitely, that cities are by nature impermanent and evolving. Yet the blocks surrounding Norris Square contain an abundance of empty lots perfectly suited to the construction of architecturally insignificant dwellings. Why not develop those properties?

    Churches tend to die slowly, often losing their congregations as the fortunes of the particular neighborhoods in which they are located go south, then losing their spires and various ornaments, and finally reaching a point at which they are beyond preservation due to decades of deferred maintenance. Every story I read about the imminent demise of another significant church property reminds me of the sad final chapter of the former Patterson Memorial Presbyterian Church designed by T.P. Chandler at 63rd and Vine. Its congregation could no longer afford to maintain it, the city attempted to find a way to save it but eventually it fell to the wrecking ball. What replaced it? A Walgreens. That is not the necessary and productive process of evolution of a healthy city. It's regression.

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    eh, we'll see how long their crazy projects last as property values start rising. It's already started.

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    One of my friends and compadres managed to sneak in and photograph some more of St. B's before the wrecking ball came. He was one of the main fighters against the NCSA plan to demolish the church building. It's even more sad that folks outside the neighborhood are finally starting to ask the same questions that people inside the neighborhood have been asking since Norris Square announced that St. B's was gonna go.

    - Why not develop on other vacant parcels? There's plenty to choose from.

    - Isn't the demolishing of a large church and new foundations going to add to the cost of what you're planning to build? Shouldn't you be tearing down blight in more significant areas to erect this housing rather than squandering all this expense on demolishing a historically significant structure?

    - Why is that what is really a CDC happens to make all the zoning decisions? Isn't it odd that Norris Square can basically build whatever it wants because it has the power over everyone else to be the "community voice" at ZBA appeals? Can you say CONFLICT OF INTEREST?

    - Isn't the Hispanic population that is in West Kensington just as Catholic as the Irish that were there before? Why couldn't have the church been re-purposed and put up for sale? Why is it that the effort to repurpose the structure was so weak as to be virtually non-existent?


    If the housing is going to be any indication from what subsidized homes already built around Norris Square, they're going to put up the same vynil box housing that will probably not last 20 years before it starts to look horribly dated.
    Last edited by ArcticSplash; 03-10-2012 at 08:58 PM.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by lighterthief View Post
    Amazing to look at the different path 19125 took from the area west of the EL. I understand protecting your own and building for your self but the extremity of Norris Square will ultimately be to their detriment
    This is a theory put to me by someone not in 19125 but is more familiar with Norris Square. They're on a development binge because of jobs the projects themselves create. If that is true, they'll fall victim of throwing up projects just for the sake of keeping people happy and employed in odd jobs. That may keep the status quo for the next 5 years but since it's all low-income, I'm wondering if the subsidized loan income and grants have expiry dates. That could throw that whole plan into chaos.

    Doubly so if CDBGs don't get increases in funding and Norris Square's development efforts grow too big to be sustained on the income it pulls in.


    I've been through most of West Kensington and most of the redevelopment you see around there, when you do see it, is basically trying to replicate suburbia. Start around the new 24th/25th Police District Headquarters and circle through looking for redeveloped lots between that and Norris Square, there's several. West Kensington is on the road to dramatically reduce its density. I hope it doesn't turn out to look as ugly as what happened with the horribly-out-of-place PHA suburban Houses of Horror that are on Poplar over in North Philly.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Juntonian View Post
    The demolition by neglect occurring throughout this city is painful and very difficult to endure. Only so many of these substantial edifices exist, built at the hands of master craftsmen whose artistry is lost using materials that can no longer be obtained. This is the architectural heritage that has been passed on to all of us collectively and it is being diminished irrevocably. St. Boniface and monumental churches like it constitute significant parts of the unique identity of our neighborhoods, yet thoughtless, shortsighted and ultimately disastrous policy decisions are causing the destruction of the physical fabric of those unique neighborhoods for which Philadelphians profess boundless pride.

    I understand that not every building can be preserved indefinitely, that cities are by nature impermanent and evolving. Yet the blocks surrounding Norris Square contain an abundance of empty lots perfectly suited to the construction of architecturally insignificant dwellings. Why not develop those properties?

    Churches tend to die slowly, often losing their congregations as the fortunes of the particular neighborhoods in which they are located go south, then losing their spires and various ornaments, and finally reaching a point at which they are beyond preservation due to decades of deferred maintenance. Every story I read about the imminent demise of another significant church property reminds me of the sad final chapter of the former Patterson Memorial Presbyterian Church designed by T.P. Chandler at 63rd and Vine. Its congregation could no longer afford to maintain it, the city attempted to find a way to save it but eventually it fell to the wrecking ball. What replaced it? A Walgreens. That is not the necessary and productive process of evolution of a healthy city. It's regression.
    Beautifully said. Buildings like St. Bonnie's are works of art that will never be remade. This is definitely not progress.

  13. #13
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    Sure would have been nice if people took notice before the wrecking ball and dumpsters arrived !
    I have been screaming this issue with nsca and the wonderful people who seem to have all wielding power in the whole location surrounding norris sqr.
    Why must it always be a wait and see game with peoples lives and the basic moral fabric that allows the demise of religion in the hopes of economic and ethnic proportioning of any peace of this city ..Is just outrage....WTF is wrong with people just standing up and doing the right thing ?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArcticSplash View Post
    - Isn't the Hispanic population that is in West Kensington just as Catholic as the Irish that were there before? Why couldn't have the church been re-purposed and put up for sale? Why is it that the effort to repurpose the structure was so weak as to be virtually non-existent?
    The main reason Boniface was closed in the first place wasn't because of parish support--at least not directly--but because of physical deterioration of the church itself. Some of the stained glass had been removed because it became unstable, and there was some concern about pieces of the church falling off and hitting people. At least one estimate for the needed repairs was reported to be in the $7 million range.

    Not saying the place couldn't have been saved with the right support, but if those numbers are / were correct, it would have been tough to do so.

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    I give Pat DeCarlo props for being crazy/dumb/honest enough to actually say what all these Civic Assc/CDC execs are thinking. She doesn't care about the neighborhood itself, she just wants to entrench poor puerto ricans in the neighborhood forever to bolster her group to get more govt money and jobs. It's the same thing the irish did back in the day with the city govt.

    Quote Originally Posted by ArcticSplash View Post
    One of my friends and compadres managed to sneak in and photograph some more of St. B's before the wrecking ball came. He was one of the main fighters against the NCSA plan to demolish the church building. It's even more sad that folks outside the neighborhood are finally starting to ask the same questions that people inside the neighborhood have been asking since Norris Square announced that St. B's was gonna go.

    - Why not develop on other vacant parcels? There's plenty to choose from.

    - Isn't the demolishing of a large church and new foundations going to add to the cost of what you're planning to build? Shouldn't you be tearing down blight in more significant areas to erect this housing rather than squandering all this expense on demolishing a historically significant structure?

    - Why is that what is really a CDC happens to make all the zoning decisions? Isn't it odd that Norris Square can basically build whatever it wants because it has the power over everyone else to be the "community voice" at ZBA appeals? Can you say CONFLICT OF INTEREST?

    - Isn't the Hispanic population that is in West Kensington just as Catholic as the Irish that were there before? Why couldn't have the church been re-purposed and put up for sale? Why is it that the effort to repurpose the structure was so weak as to be virtually non-existent?


    If the housing is going to be any indication from what subsidized homes already built around Norris Square, they're going to put up the same vynil box housing that will probably not last 20 years before it starts to look horribly dated.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by thoth View Post
    I give Pat DeCarlo props for being crazy/dumb/honest enough to actually say what all these Civic Assc/CDC execs are thinking. She doesn't care about the neighborhood itself, she just wants to entrench poor puerto ricans in the neighborhood forever to bolster her group to get more govt money and jobs. It's the same thing the irish did back in the day with the city govt.
    Well guess what... something is wrong with NCSA's tax returns.

    I have some knowledge that they are paying people cash under the table as employees which is a big no-no. I'm also aware of the politicking but I can't prove it because that's all 2nd hand information.

    But I think I have enough already to file an IRS 13909 to request an investigation into their activity. I don't see FY2010 posted yet on GuideStar but if it's not there soon, the IRS will know whether or not they have the return since they should have filed it by September of 2011 at the absolute latest (assuming they filed for their 2 extensions).

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    Dixie Normus ArcticSplash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Outlaw Star View Post
    The main reason Boniface was closed in the first place wasn't because of parish support--at least not directly--but because of physical deterioration of the church itself. Some of the stained glass had been removed because it became unstable, and there was some concern about pieces of the church falling off and hitting people. At least one estimate for the needed repairs was reported to be in the $7 million range.

    Not saying the place couldn't have been saved with the right support, but if those numbers are / were correct, it would have been tough to do so.

    The housing complex NSCA is planning is $15MM.

    And I posted (on another thread), Norris Square's last published tax return. They collect over $1MM in rents. I can see where this is going.

    I'm guessing the best way to describe it is that we're looking at the pre-cursor to a Puerto Rican version of Germantown Settlement.


    Anybody want to convince me otherwise?


    In FY09 they claimed $17MM in assets. I'm guessing they're at least up to 20MM now. But their tax return showed an income statement loss. How is that going to be sustainable, say... 20 years out?

    Will NSCA continue to grow like an amoeba until something happens and their bubble pops? It seems like the whole neighborhood is riding on the coat-tails on government grant money, and if it stops and they can't bring in the dough on low-income loan proceeds and rents to sustain themselves, the outcome is not going to be pretty.

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    Very interesting, if not surprising. Who is the big wheel in all this? NSCA, APM and Taller PR have all gotten crazy HUD money in the last couple of years, if the blocks and blocks of affordable housing are any indication. Is Sanchez steering all this cash into these groups or someone higher?

    Quote Originally Posted by ArcticSplash View Post
    The housing complex NSCA is planning is $15MM.

    And I posted (on another thread), Norris Square's last published tax return. They collect over $1MM in rents. I can see where this is going.

    I'm guessing the best way to describe it is that we're looking at the pre-cursor to a Puerto Rican version of Germantown Settlement.


    Anybody want to convince me otherwise?


    In FY09 they claimed $17MM in assets. I'm guessing they're at least up to 20MM now. But their tax return showed an income statement loss. How is that going to be sustainable, say... 20 years out?

    Will NSCA continue to grow like an amoeba until something happens and their bubble pops? It seems like the whole neighborhood is riding on the coat-tails on government grant money, and if it stops and they can't bring in the dough on low-income loan proceeds and rents to sustain themselves, the outcome is not going to be pretty.

  19. #19
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    dicarlo certainly isnt a hispanic name. as with most groups the emphasis is in poor and less on puerto rican not everyone in the new affordable housing developments is puerto rican. she is very hostile to.new development. same lady who had a bank knocked down despite an offer to.renovate it. prior to nutter these organizations had money funneled to them to acquire property. freeland had fumo funnel money to her via the waterfront corp....not sure who supports dicarlo. ive heard that sanchez (a norris sq resident) doesnt really support her. this is a big problem in the city whether it be a civic, a cdc, or a church. that said the sq really needa to drop the methadone clinic
    Last edited by eldondre; 03-13-2012 at 09:23 AM.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by thoth View Post
    Very interesting, if not surprising. Who is the big wheel in all this? NSCA, APM and Taller PR have all gotten crazy HUD money in the last couple of years, if the blocks and blocks of affordable housing are any indication. Is Sanchez steering all this cash into these groups or someone higher?
    That nobody will really know unless the finances are audited.

    With Germantown Settlement, Philadelphia Magazine had a small bevy of fired accountants to interview, plus Blondell (Settlement's primary cheerleader in City Hall), plus Settlement had to disclose their current picture before U.S. Federal Bankruptcy Court. The story couldn't get out about how it imploded until their court filings were available.

    One thing is clear, they are growing very quickly and from their tax return it's not due to PFHA mortgages and rental income.


    Their '09 return showed a significant drop in payroll they went from a profit to a loss in that year. Did they right the ship in '10? I cannot tell because their last return is not yet on GuideStar.
    Last edited by ArcticSplash; 03-13-2012 at 09:52 AM.

 

 

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