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December 09, 2016

Mayor Kenney: Toll Brothers' new plan for Jewelers Row condo project 'deeply disturbing'

Business Development
Stock_Carroll - Jewelers Row Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Buildings on south side of Jewelers Row that may be subject to demolition due to an impending development, Oct. 21, 2016.

Mayor Jim Kenney has a few choice words for the suburban Philadelphia developer that recently announced plans to double the height of a condominium tower that would cast a shadow on Jewelers Row. 

Pressing the company to reconsider their plans, Kenney called the new twist in the construction battle "deeply disturbing." The developer also said it would not retain the second and third-floor facades of the five properties at the site, something the mayor had encouraged months ago.

Horsham-based Toll Brothers said last week that it planned to raise the roof on its 16-story condo building to 29 stories. It would sit on the southeast corner of 7th and Sansom streets, a part of the oldest diamond district in the nation.

Residents pushed back when Toll Brothers announced its plan over the summer with an attempt to nominate two of the rowhomes to Philly's Register of Historic Places.

In the full statement released Friday, Kenney said:

“The news that Toll Brothers intends to double the height of its Jewelers’ Row project and that they will not maintain the second and third floor facades is deeply disturbing. I had hoped from our previous conversations that they intended to be a good corporate citizen, injecting much needed investment into the area while still respecting its character, but this information calls that into question. While, regrettably, the City, including the Historical Commission, does not have the legal ability to stop the project from moving forward, I am urging Toll Brothers to reconsider these decisions. I expect the Civic Design Review Board to make serious recommendations that will respect the historic nature of the properties, and I urge the Toll Brothers to adopt those recommendations or make the necessary adjustments on their own. If they do not, Toll Brothers will be sending a clear message that they no longer wish to have a productive relationship with the City of Philadelphia.”

Kenney sided with residents outraged by the plans who felt that the construction would jeopardize the area's charm and historical significance. While the city wasn't able to stop the company's demolition plan, he said he had faith that it would protect Jewelers Row. 

"[Toll Brothers has] given me and Councilman [Mark] Squilla their word that they are committed to maintaining Jewelers Row as a historic, cultural gem for future generations of Philadelphians to enjoy," Kenney said in October.