Morning Headlines: The Curious Case of the Germantown YWCA

Can the historic building be saved?

Image via Google Street View

Image via Google Street View

The fate of the historic Germantown YWCA building hangs in the balance due to a standoff between District Councilwoman Cindy Bass, developer Ken Weinstein and concerned neighbors who want to secure its future. What’s the main sticking point? Weinstein wants to turn the site into affordable housing for seniors and, according to Claudia Vargas of The Inquirer, that’s not how Councilwoman Bass envisions its future:

What Bass would like is market-rate development, whether that is apartments, retail, or a reincarnation of a vibrant community center.

It’s been a roller coaster ride for the building at 5820 Germantown Avenue. Sold by the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority in 2006 to Germantown Settlement, the building has been a poster child for blight, having been neglected, vandalized and even the site of arson over the years. The PRA took over the property again in 2013 and sought RFPs for its redevelopment. The proposal from Weinstein, while not perfect, seems to be the last shot to save the building on the north end of Vernon Park. Inga Saffron notes:

Though Weinstein was the only bidder, his $15 million plan made a lot of sense. Not only did he promise to rehab the Y’s exterior, but he also has partnered with two respected local nonprofits, the Mission First Housing Group and Center in the Park. Although it would mean another affordable-housing project in Germantown, it seemed like a small price to pay for saving the Y.

Weinstein owns the lot next to the Y and has plans to make that site a market rate development. For now, the building sits and waits for someone to decide its fate. Concerned neighbors and preservationists are worried that it can’t be saved if it sits much longer.

Here’s what a redeveloped YWCA could look like if it is saved.

What’s to become of the old Germantown YWCA? [The Inquirer]

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