Advocacy Update: Christian Street Demolition Moratorium Passes City Council

Philadelphia City Council has passed the Christian Street Demolition Moratorium. Effective immediately, the bill places a temporary moratorium on all demolitions along Christian St in South Philadelphia, from Broad St to 20th Street.

In the coming weeks, the Preservation Alliance and South of South Neighborhood Association (SOSNA) will also finalize a nomination to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places, proposing the Christian Street Historic District. The proposed district includes over 200 properties and recognizes the contributions of the Black professional class who primarily populated these blocks in the first half of the twentieth century. The district would further recognize the residential, commercial and institutional architecture of Christian St and the people and organizations who made their survival possible. 

The demolition moratorium will be in place for one year - or until the district nomination is formally reviewed and placed under the Philadelphia Historical Commission’s jurisdiction, whichever occurs first. This bill is an excellent first step toward increased protections along Christian St, and helps demonstrate the utility and efficacy of demolition moratoriums in neighborhoods across the city, especially those facing rapid, unplanned, and increasingly volatile development pressure with little regard for historic places.

We remain grateful to Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson and his staff and the South of South Neighborhood Association for their support of this worthy endeavor, and we look forward to formal submission of the Christian Street Historic District nomination in the coming weeks.

In less welcome news, the Historical Commission was unfortunately NOT granted additional resources in the city’s FY22 operating budget. The office will remain at seven staffers (down from their previous eight, owing to a long-time staffer’s retirement). We will continue to pursue alternative sources of funding to bolster the mission of the Historical Commission and get them the staffing capacity they so badly need. Do continue to engage and contact your Councilmembers and reinforce why preservation and the responsible management of historic properties is important in your neighborhood.

Published by the Preservation Alliance