Last week the Philadelphia Historical Commission considered building changes requested by developer Bart Blatstein, who bought Rittenhouse Square’s long vacant McIlhenny Mansion in April as a personal residence. According to PlanPhilly, “the Blatstein case was considered from two vantages:”
whether the changes he was requesting were merely “alterations” or if they constituted “demolition” of historic fabric; and whether the design of the new building is compatible with the overall historic district.
The first issue has been raised before when the former owner of the mansion petitioned the commission to make changes in 1999. Most members of the commission (including, as PlanPhilly put it, “newly-bearded” chair Sam Sherman) felt their approval from that time could apply now.
As for the latter concern, Blatstein's architects explicated the design changes they were planning to make, and the commission requested some minor alterations. But the design in concept was unanimously approved. Apparently, Blatstein didn't talk much -- nor did he need to. The most inadvertently funny line from the PlanPhilly piece:
Blatstein was present with a coterie of dark-suited men, but remained silent through the testimony.
You and your coteries, Bart.