John Wei is willing to sell the embattled Church of the Assumption, a certified historic property at 12th and Spring Garden that he’s owned since July.
The asking price? $2.1 million.
Michael Barmash, a Philadelphia-based principal at Colliers International who marketed the property for its previous owner, said that Wei contacted him just before the holidays and asked him to quote the price to interested buyers at $2.1 million for the entire property, including the church, a rectory, and other parcels. Barmash said he has only “informally marketed” the property since then.
Wei bought the property for $1.12 million in July.
Andrew Palewski, a preservationist who wrote the Church of the Assumption’s nomination for the Historic Register, said that he knows a developer who has made what he considers a fair offer for the building, but wouldn’t identify who it was.
“The person who made the offer is somebody who’s been interested in the church for a while, and he also made an offer to the previous owner,” Palewski told PlanPhilly.
Bart Blatstein, who has shown interest in buying the building in the past, told PlanPhilly he is not the buyer.
Eric Blumenfeld, who is redeveloping the Divine Lorraine on North Broad Street, said that he had reached out to John Wei, but that he was unable to look at the building.
“The rumors are probably about me," Blumenfeld said, "but they’re rumors.”
He added, "If there’s a way that my involvement could help the community and somehow lead to the preservation of the building, I would be happy to be involved."
But Blumenfeld also pointed out that without being able to walk through and evaluate the building, he has no way of judging whether it is reusable.
"There’s a lot involved in trying to create transformation," Blumenfeld said. "My commodity is my company, my brain, my imagination, and my time. And if there was really a viable path to a viable finish line, I’d be happy to engage, but I’m not sure there is."
John Wei said that people have expressed interest in reusing the property, but that so far it is “just talk,” and that nobody has put up the money.
The Historical Commission granted a financial hardship to the Church’s previous owner, Siloam, a group that provides support services to people with HIV/AIDS, allowing them to demolish the building. Wei indicated at the time of his purchase of the Church that he didn’t intend to demolish it, but demolition notices suddenly appear on the building in November. Wei has said he doesn’t have the money to rehab the Church, and that the City says his only choices are rehabilitation or demolition.
The Board of L&I Review, which is also the body that hears appeals of Historical Commission decisions, issued a stay of demolition last month. A Board hearing on the Church is scheduled for Tuesday, January 8th, at 3 p.m.
WILL BE UPDATED