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Problems in Securing Philly Site for the Barnes

While the Barnes Foundation pares down its architect shortlist for its planned moved to Philadelphia, access to the preferred site for the project, currently occupied by a youth detention center, remains in doubt.
Dave Davies and Mark McDonald of the Philadelphia Daily News report:
Mayor Street and the Fairmount Park Commission have taken the first official steps to transfer a choice site on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to the Barnes Foundation for its prestigious art collection, but the biggest obstacle to the move from Lower Merion remains unresolved.
The Street administration yesterday introduced City Council legislation making zoning changes and approving a lease agreement with the Barnes. And last night the Park Commission, which controls part of the site, approved the 99-year lease….
But while Council may well approve the Barnes legislation, there’s no visible progress on the obstacle that has so far held up the project: the city’s aging Youth Detention Center, which stands on the proposed Barnes location.
Plans to build a new center at a five-acre West Philadelphia site have been blocked by Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, and so far the Street administration hasn’t come up an alternative plan for the roughly 100 delinquent kids housed at the center.

Rita Giordano of the Philadelphia Inquirer further informs us:
The lease agreement [for the land] would set a target date of May 30, 2008, for the city to vacate the site. Derek Gillman, president of the Barnes Foundation, told the commissioners he hoped to open in Philadelphia by the end of 2009.
That sounds like a rather tight window for construction, installation and opening. If the site is not available by May 30 of next year, the Barnes has the option of backing out of the project.
Maybe then they’d be able to devote a good chunk of the money they’ve raised to continuing at a different site—the one they’re in, which is where they should stay..

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