South Philly Church is Getting Converted into 40 Residential Units

The former Emanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church at 1001 S. 4th St.

The historic former Emanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church at 1001 S. 4th St. was most recently the home of the Chua Bo De Buddhist Temple. The Chua Bo De Buddhist Temple received criticism for selling the 17,290 square foot Residential Multi-Family-2 (RM-2) zoned property to developers in January of 2019 for $1.675 million. From the looks of the exterior of the building, the 11,718 square foot church, built in 1868, was falling into disrepair.

Before going through with the purchase, the development team secured use permits in November of 2018 to put 40 residential units in the building. Interior demolition permits were issued in February of 2019, followed by an addition permit in March. The developers are adding new floors within the building to accommodate the residential units. The church’s high, vaulted ceilings are not conducive to living units. So, new levels will be added within this space to create a more standard residential floor plate. Alternation permits to make these changes were issued in May.

Work has already begun on the project. Some windows have been restored and others have been replaced where necessary. We imagine that interior work is also underway.

This is a fantastic project. A historic building that was neglected is being restored and reused. When the restoration is completed, the steeple should shine brighter than it has in decades. Additional residents in this area should also assist surrounding Southwark and Queen Village businesses. The new neighbors should also help fuel the transformation of Washington Avenue into a more pedestrian-friendly commercial corridor.

How do you feel about this project? Do you mourn the loss of another religious institution in the neighborhood? Do you welcome new residents to South Philly? Are you happy to see the church restored?

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