Archive of Prominent Section 106 Cases:
Pennsylvania: Closure and Disposal of Philadelphia Naval Hospital
January 1999 Developments
U.S. Navy officials have indicated that the agency may terminate consultation on this project. The decision whether to terminate consultation will be made by the Secretary of the Navy, and is expected to be announced shortly.
Under the Base Realignment and Closure Act of 1988 (BRAC), the Philadelphia Naval Hospital was slated for closure and disposal. All functions were relocated from the complex in 1993, and since that date the buildings have been vacant, overseen by a small security and maintenance staff. The complex's earliest buildings date from 1933-1936. The most prominent is Building 1, a 15-story, Art Deco-style tower faced with yellow brick and brown terra cotta that has been described in a survey of Philadelphia architecture as "one of the finest Art Deco buildings in the city."
The City of Philadelphia has expressed interest in obtaining the parcel and has prepared a proposed reuse plan for the property. This plan, which calls for demolition of all structures on the site, was predicated on a belief that the historic buildings could not be economically reused, and was developed before the property was formally determined eligible for the National Register. The property, which is adjacent to Veterans Stadium, would be redeveloped with market-rate townhouses, a nursing home and assisted living facility, a park, and a 1,100-space parking lot. There is no firm schedule for implementing the reuse plan.
The Council and the Navy have consulted to determine the best way to ascertain the potential for preserving the most significant parts of the Philadelphia Naval Hospital complex. Council members representing the General Services Administration, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Architect of the Capitol reviewed the case and concurred with Council staff that marketing would be the best tool for gauging redevelopment potential of the site. Therefore, the Council has recommended that the Navy market the property with a preservation covenant. This approach would, however, run counter to the City's preferred plan for the site.
The Navy recently issued a policy statement regarding consultation under Section 106 for BRAC Closure actions. While stressing the importance of early and thorough consultation, the policy also indicates that the Navy will not market properties at public sale if this would defeat local reuse plans, as in this case. This has set the stage for the anticipated termination of consultation.
Staff contact: Druscilla Null
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