Only in Philly: Jewelers Row redevelopment

- There's currently a plan to do some revitalization along Jewelers Row. The developer Toll Brothers has bought, and wants to demolish, five buildings on the 700 block of Sansom Street and build a 16-story condominium tower.

But some people aren't too happy about that. And their reasons... are complaints we'd have only in Philly, FOX 29's Bruce Gordon says.

Independence Hall is an iconic structure. So is the Philadelphia Museum of Art. And those 18th century brickfront homes in Old City.

I mention those examples because some locals are up in arms over plans by Toll Brothers builders, to knock down five properties on Jewelers Row to put up a 16-story condominium tower.

Now, don't get me wrong, Jewelers Row has a grand history. It's the oldest diamond district in America and the second largest.

But the buildings, most at least, are nondescript. Nothing special.

It's a safe bet no tour groups are traveling to Philly to stare at these structures.

Toll Brothers says it will keep the ground floor of its tower consistent with the rest of the 700 block of Sansom. It's entirely possible jewelers will set up shop there.

And Mayor Jim Kenney weighed in this week, saying he has "strongly requested" that the builder keep the second and third floors consistent with the look of the block.

I've talked to jewelers along Sansom, and most tell me they welcome a high-end tower that will bring life back to a neighborhood that now rolls up its sidewalks at 5 p.m.

Unfettered development can be a problem.

But the cash-strapped city of Philadelphia is desperately in need of attracting folks with money in their pockets.
And a high-end condo tower does just that.

Restaurants and shops benefit, maybe even the jewelry stores themselves.

I'm as big an American history buff as you're likely to meet.

But sometimes progress is, just that – progress.

The city should hold Toll Brothers to the law and to its promises regarding the look of the new tower.

But to those who see a  project that brings construction jobs and permanent employment and new taxpayers to the city and say, "Go away, you're knocking down old buildings that nobody thought were important 'til now," I say ... "Only in Philly."

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