The Salvation Army has agreed to donate its property at 22nd and Market streets for use as a memorial park, to honor the victims of the building collapse that killed six people last June.
The agreement was announced Thursday by Mayor Nutter, who praised the charity for its generosity in giving up the property. The transfer still needs approval from several authorities in New York State, where the Salvation Army is headquartered.
Major Robert W. Dixon, the Salvation Army's regional director of operations, attended Nutter's news conference but by prior arrangement, did not speak. The non-profit is a defendant in most of the civil cases filed in the wake of the disaster last June.
The six victims included Anne Bryan, an artist and 24-year-old daughter of city treasurer Nancy Winkler, who started a petition drive to turn the disaster site into a public park.
"Our message today is to thank everyone for recognizing that this was the right thing to do and we appreciate that we've all come together and found a solution really quicker than I had imagined," Winkler told reporters. Asked about her hopes for the design, she said, "We would like a beautiful park that reflects the importance of human life."
Fundraising and design work has already begun, with about $50,000 raised so far toward an estimated $250,000 in total costs, according to Gerard H. Sweeney, president of Brandywine Realty Trust, finance chairman of the 22nd & Market Memorial Committee, set up to execute the project.
Public donations can be made through the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, which is designing the park, at
www.pennhort.net/memorial or through the website http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/22nd-and-market-memorial-garden
The proposal was endorsed by the mayor and fundraising began months ago, but the land is still owned by the Salvation Army, whose thrift shop was destroyed when a four-story brick wall at an adjacent demolition site collapsed on top of the store.
Six of those inside were killed and 13 other customers and employees were injured, as well as a heavy equipment operator at the demolition site.
Nutter confirmed that city officials have discussed finding another site where the Salvation Army might build a new thrift shop. But independently of those discussions, the Salvation Army decided on its own to donate the 22nd and Market property for the memorial, Nutter said.