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August 27, 2016

Fishtown residents to hear apartments plan for St. Laurentius

Zoning meeting scheduled for proposal to convert historic church

Development Churches
St. Laurentius  Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

St. Laurentius Church in Fishtown.

Fishtown residents will get a chance to learn more about a proposal to convert the historic St. Laurentius Catholic Church into apartments, a plan that follows a years-long fight to save the historic building.

The Fishtown Neighbors Association has scheduled a zoning meeting on the plan for Sept. 20. 

In February, it was reported that local developer Leo Voloshin had agreed to buy the building from Holy Name of Jesus Parish.

Former parishioners had battled with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to save the church, which was merged with nearby Holy Name in 2013, closed and subsequently slated for demolition.

The archdiocese argued the financial responsibility of maintaining the building, which was placed on Holy Name after the merger, was too much too bear, and that the building was in danger of collapsing.

The Friends of St. Laurentius, the group that fought for the church's preservation, said the archdiocese overestimated the cost of needed repairs and argued the building's historical significance made it worth saving.

The church, which sits at Berks and Memphis streets, was founded by Polish immigrants in 1882.

Last summer, the building received historical designation, saving the church — at least temporarily — from the wrecking ball.

But without a buyer, the archdiocese could have potentially proven financial hardship and gone through the Philadelphia Historical Commission to demolish the building.

According to the Fishtown Neighbors, the plan being presented at the zoning meeting will propose combining seven lots into two, and will allow all existing uses in the rectory and school to remain.

Information on the meeting can be found here.