Philly mayor tries to help Peebles win tax credit

Gables-based Peebles Corp. sought historic designation of a vacant building in Philadelphia

Jul.July 23, 2016 03:00 PM

The mayor of Philadelphia interceded to help Coral Gables-based developer Peebles Corp. win a national historic designation for a city-owned property and an associated tax credit for redeveloping it.

The National Park Service has rejected an application by Peebles Corp. for national historic designation of the building, a former courthouse, because the company’s proposed redevelopment would alter too much of the building’s interior.

Peebles Corp., headed by developer Don Peebles, plans to redevelop the old Family Court building at 1801 Vine Street in Philadelphia as a hotel.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney responded to the National Park Service’s rejection by sending a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to request a meeting with her. The National Park Service is among the agencies Jewell oversees.

A spokesman for the Department of the Interior told the Philadelpha Inquirer that the mayor’s letter had been received and that the department planned to make a direct response to the mayor.

City officials have described the planned redevelopment of the old Family Court building as an important project that would further enliven a corridor of Philadephia, the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Time is running out. In 2014, Peebles Corp. landed the court-building redevelopment project following a competitive bidding process. Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. president John Grady told the Philadelphia Inquirer that Peebles Corp. has until the end of November obtain building permits and secure tax credits under its deal with the city.

A spokesman for Pennsylvania’s State Historic Preservation Office told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the tax credit the developer has sought would reduce the project cost by $14.6 million.

The Coral Gables-based company plans an $85 million conversion of the vacant Beaux Arts-style court building to a hotel with 199 guest rooms plus a ballroom, spa, fitness center, board and meeting rooms, and a restaurant and bar. [Philadelphia Inquirer]Mike Seemuth

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