Since then, construction of the new Family Court Building at 15th and Arch has started. But once the Family Court moves, the question of what will happen at 1801 Vine remains.
The City still seems interested in seeing 1801 Vine converted into a combined cultural space/hotel. Just today the Inquirer reported
that the city is thinking about how to add hotel rooms “strategically” and Mark McDonald, a spokesman for Mayor Nutter, said the city would issue a developer RFP to convert 1801 Vine Street into a hotel in the first quarter of 2012.
The Family Court Building was designed by architect John Windrim as a twin to the main branch of the Free Library across 19th Street, and was built with funds from the Works Progress Administration. The building’s exterior was listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places in 1971.
As redevelopment loomed in recent years, preservation advocates were spurred into action to protect the building’s Windrim-designed interiors (including courtrooms, waiting rooms, grand main hall, and staircase) and 37 WPA-era murals that comprise the largest collection of WPA-era public art in Philadelphia.
In May 2011, these sections of the interior were listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places, with unanimous support from the Historical Commission. The interior designation limits what interior alterations are possible in the designated areas, largely on the ground floor.
The Family Court Building is worthy of a creative approach to its reuse. Here's hoping that developers, armed with a better understanding of 1801 Vine, give it their best shot.