Philadelphia Judge Halts Demo on Convention Center Expansion

A Commonwealth Court judge has ordered an injunction to halt the demolition of two historic buildings in Philadelphia slated for destruction to clear the way for the expansion of the Pennsylvania Convention Center. A hearing is set for later this month to settle a dispute between the Department of General Services and the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia.

The buildings are the former Philadelphia Life Insurance Co. building, a 1920s classical-style structure, and an annex added to it in the 1960s. The alliance had obtained a temporary emergency injunction on Christmas Eve, after DGS sent a crew to begin tearing off limestone from the buildings' facades. The judge kept the injunction in place following a Jan. 8 hearing and the two parties will meet again in court Jan. 24.

The alliance claims DGS violated a 2004 agreement between the convention center and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) to preserve the two buildings. DGS says the agreement was non-binding. A DGS spokesman said the cost to taxpayers to save the buildings would be $10 million. The center expansion project is $700 million.