SAMUEL STRETTON, the attorney for a neighborhood group fighting to save a landmark North Philadelphia church, plans to challenge a demolition permit that the city issued last month to the owners.

"I don't know how they got it," Stretton said Monday of the new owners of Church of the Assumption. "The case is pending. It's before the Commonwealth Court."

City records show that a demolition permit was issued Nov. 21 and updated Nov. 29 with a notation: "Demolition activity shall not commence prior to Dec. 11, 2012."

Stretton said that he might file an injunction or seek another way to block the demolition.

The church, on 11th and Spring Garden streets and known for its twin spires, was placed on the city's Register of Historic Places by activists seeking to keep it from the wrecking ball.

The church, designed by architect Patrick Charles Keely and built by him in 1848 and 1849, has historic ties to two Catholic saints: John Neumann consecrated it, and Katharine Drexel was baptized there.

Siloam, a nonprofit agency that helps people with AIDS/ HIV, first sought to demolish the church in 2008. The agency sold it to MJ Central Investments, LP, for $1.1 million in July.

John Wei, a developer who is part of MJ Central Investments, has not publicly discussed his plans. He did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Sarah McEneaney, president of the Callowhill Neighborhood Association, said in an email that the organization was "shocked to learn that L&I has issued a permit to demolish the church. We continue to believe that the Church of the Assumption is historically and architecturally significant and should be preserved."

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