In the 1950s, the Chinese Cultural Center was a place of cultural exchange and celebration, a regional and local gem recognized by residents, community leaders, and politicians alike. Its distinctive, ornamental Chinese facade has stood blighted and vacant for over a decade on the heart of Chinatown’s 10th Street commercial corridor. The non-profit which owns the building is defunct. Although the building was listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places in 2013, the building’s future ownership and use will now be decided by a judge. It will be a struggle, but we must insist that future appropriate uses will celebrate the building and the community’s heritage.
In May of this year, a judge approved the building for conservatorship under Scioli Turco, Inc.
The Pennsylvania Conservatorship Law, Act 135 grants temporary ownership of disused buildings to conservators, allowing them to remove immediate safety hazards. To ensure that renovation and eventual marketing respect the Center’s history and Chinatown’s community goals, PCDC filed a Petition to Intervene, which was also approved.
On September 22nd, Scioli Turco had petitioned the judge to list the property for $2 Million with Coldwell Banker.
In response, PCDC requested that a local realty company with cultural knowledge and language competency be used to list the property, and that all efforts are taken to find an owner with a plan that would benefit a working class, immigrant neighborhood and honor its history.
PCDC also has requested that the typical conservator fee of 20% of the purchase value is reduced, given the circumstances of the building’s location and its former non-profit use.
Prospective buyers are required to present a plan to rehabilitate and reuse the building, to the benefit of the community as well as provide proof of financial capability to execute such a plan.