The First Judicial District yesterday canceled a development deal for a new Family Court building amid questions about a lawyer working for both the court system and the owner of the land. The cancellation comes days after Gov. Rendell announced the release of about $200 million in state money for the new building at 15th and Arch streets.
Gary Tuma, Rendell's spokesman, said the "state commitment of money is still in place." That also includes $20 million more to help the city convert the current Family Court building, at 18th and Vine streets, into a museum and hotel.
But the project, from design to its eventual construction, will now be handled by the Pennsylvania Department of General Services, Tuma said.
Friday's announcement came the same day the Inquirer published an examination of the no-bid development deal and an alleged conflict of interest with an attorney involved.
Jeffrey B. Rotwitt, with Center City firm Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel, represented both the court system and the owner of the land, Conshohocken developer Donald Pulver, the Inquirer reported.
Rotwitt has already received $1.1 million of the $3.9 million he was to pocket from the court system in his role as "tenant representative," the paper reported.
Meanwhile, his deal with Pulver reportedly netted Rotwitt nearly a half-million dollars from the courts.
"Mr. Rotwitt made it clear he was becoming a codeveloper in the project," said a spokesman, Kevin Feeley. "There was no conflict, this was open and aboveboard from the beginning."
The court system said that contracts and payments made to Northwest 15th Street Associates, which is controlled by Pulver, and Rotwitt's Deilwydd Property Group, are under review.