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Health Center No. 1 Caught Between Historical Preservation Fight, Development Ambitions

Health Center No. 1, at the corner of South Broad and Lombard streets

Health Center No. 1, a distinctive building on South Broad Street's Avenue of the Arts corridor, is caught in the middle of a modernization versus preservation fight.

Last month, the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. issued a request for proposals for the center, built in 1959 as one of 10 neighborhood health centers for post-World War II Philadelphia. The next day, the Preservation Alliance of Philadelphia submitted a request for the Philadelphia Historical Commission to designate the building as historic, Naked Philly reports.

The 56K SF, curved, teal-brick building, designed by Montgomery & Bishop, is an exemplar of midcentury modernist architecture, the Preservation Alliance argues. The organization wishes to see it preserved on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places.

The PIDC wrote in its RFP that it has plans to move the health services housed in the building by next year, and it wishes to see a mixed-use building commensurate with the property's CMX-4 (Center City mixed-use) zoning. Just up South Broad, Carl Dranoff is planning a luxury hotel. Proposals are due Sept. 22.

The timeline for historical consideration has not been set, but the Committee on Historic Designation must consider the Preservation Alliance's request before the Historical Commission makes a final decision. Until then, Health Center No. 1's fate is in limbo.