THAT WASN'T so hard, now was it?
Cedar-Riverview LP, which owns South Philly's endangered Engine 46 firehouse, agreed yesterday to discuss the building's fate with local officials after the Daily News reported that residents and politicians were fed up with being left in the dark by the New York-based company.
A demolition notice was tacked onto the vacant firehouse, at Reed and Water streets, earlier this week, indicating the 119-year-old property would be torn down on or after July 30.
City Councilman Mark Squilla said he finally received a phone call from Bruce Schanzer, the president of Cedar Realty Trust, Cedar-Riverview's parent company.
Schanzer agreed to temporarily postpone the demolition and said he would meet with the councilman and Pennsport Civic Association president Jim Moylan, Squilla said.
Squilla, Moylan and the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia had all made fruitless attempts in recent weeks to get someone, anyone, from Cedar-Riverview to respond to questions about the company's plans for the site, which sits in the shadow of the I-95 overpass.
"To me, this is progress. Until you wrote that article, we had nothing from them," Squilla said. "Are we going to change their plans? I don't know. But at least we can get a dialogue going."
Squilla said Schanzer told him that Cedar-Riverview intends to demolish the firehouse and an adjoining property that years ago housed an arcade.
The company secured the demolition permit in January after a deal with a potential new tenant fell through, he said.
It's unclear if Cedar-Riverview wants to build a new property at the site, or simply sell or lease the vacant parcel.
Although Engine 46 is eye-catching and more than a century old, it is not on the city's Register of Historic Places.
A local resident tried to have the firehouse added to the register, but the application was deemed incomplete because it lacked information on the building's history.
Squilla said he asked Schanzer why no one from Cedar had responded to the numerous inquiries from his office and from local residents who were concerned about the handsome firehouse.
"He said, 'Oh, we don't respond until we have a signed agreement ,' " Squilla said. "I understand he has a business to run, but you have to work with our community, too."