The Mormon Church has shifted the location for its first Philadelphia temple from North Broad Street to Vine Street between 17th and 18th Streets, Robert B. Smith, a church leader in Philadelphia, said yesterday.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced in October 2008 that it would build a temple on the east side of the 400 block of North Broad, between Noble and Hamilton Streets.
Smith said the church encountered "contamination" problems with that site, prohibiting it from using the entire parcel to construct two buildings. He said the church was "in the process" of finalizing a sales agreement for 1739 Vine St., now a parking lot owned by Logan Place Associates.
The property is on the north side of Vine, east of Family Court and near the Central Library of the Free Library of Philadelphia and the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul.
Smith, a member of the church's council of religious leaders for this area, said the church plans to build a temple and a meetinghouse. While a meetinghouse is open to the public, a temple can only be visited by members of the church in good standing, Smith said.
Smith said there are about 25,000 members of the church attending 40 congregations in the Philadelphia and South Jersey areas. He said this would be the first temple in the Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Delaware region.
"Our final plans have not been done," Smith said. "We should be announcing them in the near future."
He said the church was prepared to immediately begin construction on the project, which could take two to three years to complete. The complex, he added, will include a genealogy center for the public.
"It's a beautiful location," Smith said. "We feel our plan for it will enhance that location and will be a great center for the whole city. It's really kind of exciting."
Smith said the church did not have immediate plans for the Broad Street parcel, which is less than an acre. According to city records, the property was purchased for $4 million in October 2007. Smith said the church did not discover the problems until after the purchase.