Text -- February 7, 2003 letter from Anna Verna to community resident Ann Hoskins-Brown


Thank you for your letter concerning the historic Naval Home site in South Philadelphia.

I agree with your assessment that the property has been permitted to fall into a shameful state of neglect. It is a disgrace to the proud tradition of the Navy and this city. In 2000, I believed that we had reached a consensus on a sensible development plan that considered the business needs of Toll Brothers, the community's concerns and historic preservation interests. I though that we had reached a point where development would finally begin. I am disappointed that it has not been the case.

It is Toll Brothers contention that the project is not "economically feasible" and that when the project is feasible they intend to move forward. However, the city has been experiencing a housing boom no seen for almost 40 years and I believe Toll Brothers is missing an opportunity to redevelop this site in a way that allows the company to both profit and retain the historic integrity of this wonderful site.

As a historic landmark, the Naval Home property is much too valuable to lose to demolition by neglect. Therefore, I advised the city administration that I supported a request by the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia for an independent analysis of the structural integrity of the building. As a result, the Department of Licenses engaged the services of Keast and Hood, a well-respected structural engineering firm that has been involved in the analysis of many historic structures in the city. A preliminary analysis by Keast and Hood indicates that they believe the building can be saved and restored, but we await a full report by them. This report should be available by the end of next week.

Also, the Department of Licenses & Inspections will secure all of the buildings as well as the perimeter. The Department is also taking enforcement action in the Court of Common Pleas to require Toll Brothers to adequately secure and protect the property. I fully support these enforcement actions and hope that Toll Brothers will move forward to develop this piece of Philadelphia history.

I trust this information is helpful to you. One of my senior staff members, Kathleen Murray, will be present at both public meetings next week to discuss this matter. I am trying to change my schedule for Tuesday and Thursday evenings so that I can also be present.

With best regards, I am


Anna C. Verna

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