Saved: Infusion of Funds Means Germantown YWCA Won’t Be Demolished

Councilwoman Cindy Bass and the PRA will use $4 million to save the structure.

Photo | Jill Saull

Photo | Jill Saull

Good news for those of your following along with the situation at the historic Germantown YWCA. Councilwoman Cindy Bass will assign $2.2 million in Neighborhood Transformation Initiative funds in order to renovate and weatherize the building. That means it won’t face the wrecking ball. In fact, a second life could soon be in the cards for the building adjacent Vernon Park.

The physical state of the vacant neighborhood landmark was in rapid decline after sustaining multiple fires. Councilwoman Bass balked at developer Ken Weinstein’s plan to redevelop it into a space for non-profits and low-income senior housing, saying a more community driven project should be considered. “We have to be thoughtful and deliberate about development in Germantown-just as we have in Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill. Nothing less will be acceptable,” Bass said in a statement. Neighbors feared the building didn’t have much time if it continued to sit open to the elements and formed a proactive Friends group to help save the structure.

Hidden City says a recent inspection from L+I concluded that the “building was structurally sound and does not need to be demolished.” The Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, who originally wanted to sell the property to Weinstein, will issue a second round of request for proposals and will combine with Bass to contribute approximately $4 million need to secure the building. Elliot Griffin, Director of Communications for Councilwoman Bass, said the RFP process will definitely happen before the summer.

That doesn’t mean Weinstein, who owns the combination of seven parcels north of the Y up to W. Rittenhouse Street, won’t be submitting another RFP. “It’s safe to assume we will be interested again. That being said, it depends on what the RFP says.” Weinstein also notes that he would like to see one of the proposals accepted this go-around. “Overall, I’m really excited about this announcement and glad that the City is willing to put $4 million into stabilizing the Y.”

Councilwoman Bass said that market-rate condos or rentals, office space, retail options and recreation uses have been suggested. Weinstein says he’s heard from developers that want to put market-rate housing into the old Y, but noted: “It’s put up or shut up time, either put out a proposal or stop talking about it.”

Germantown YWCA coverage [Property]