Creating a Catholic campus in Philadelphia

It’s breaking that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has envisioned a redevelopment of its Cathedral Basilica, which is also home to the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center.

Clearly this is something that’s been years in the making. The conceptual rendering that’s been released looks sharp, and I hope something very close to this is the final product. It’s strange to me that these plans have been released without any confirmed developer/lessee. I’d guess that either a developer exists that doesn’t want to be publicly named yet, or the Archdiocese is releasing this vision in the hopes of attracting a likeminded developer.

In any event, the difference between what the “campus” should look like versus the present reality (below) is incredible.

I moved the headquarters of the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network into the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center (the square structure) on July 1st. It’s a great location for us compared to the suburbs where we were, and it’s to be surrounded by similarly-minded people re: our mission. Obviously the Archdiocese’s plans mean our presence there won’t be long term, which I’m fine with because I believe strongly in the vision that’s been laid out for creating a wiser, denser, and more attractive Catholic campus in the heart of the city.


Jacob Adelman writes:

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia envisions hundreds of new dwellings – including one for the archbishop – around its Center City cathedral.

The new housing is part of an ambitious proposal to transform acres of underused land around the historic Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter & Paul into an inviting enclave of high-rise buildings, verdant gardens, and pedestrian walkways. …

…officials anticipate extending a 99-year lease to a developer for a 2.2-acre, L-shaped parcel running to the north and east of the 1864 cathedral, according to a presentation this week to the Logan Square Neighborhood Association, which has jurisdiction over the site. …

Early conceptual plans call for the demolition of the three 20th-century buildings on the proposed development site to make way for two mostly residential high-rises along landscaped paths.

The new building to the north, which appears as a 44-story tower in renderings presented to the neighborhood group, would feature ground-floor retail and restaurant space.

The second tower to the east, presented as a 33-story building, would accommodate on its lower floors administrative offices that are currently housed in a campus headquarters building Croke said is in need of millions of dollars of maintenance.

Also in that new building, the use of which would be guaranteed to the archdiocese as part of the ground-lease negotiations, would be the cathedral’s convent and social-service annex, both now located in structures also proposed for demolition.

Another component of the plan is the reestablishment of the campus’ rectory, south of the cathedral, as the archbishop’s residence for the first time since 1935, when Cardinal Dennis Dougherty moved into the then-new City Avenue mansion.

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