Demolition of the Baker Funeral Home, a long-standing funeral parlor on Broad Street near Norris that closed in 2017, will be completed in early March.
The demolition began on Jan. 8, said Michael Alhadad, a developer who owns the property. Alhadad plans to build a six-story, 40-unit residential building on the site.
Construction of the new building is set to begin in April or May, Alhadad said. The building’s first floor will be designated as commercial space, though an occupant has yet to be found, he added.
Alhadad’s project was approved on Oct. 2, 2019, after being denied by the city’s Licenses and Inspections Department on June 10, 2019. The city’s first refusal centered around a zoning designation that restricts developers from building single-use apartments on Broad Street between Oxford and Diamond, while the second concerned a limit on the amount of land a building is allowed to occupy within its property.
The development hit another roadblock after Philadelphia Police found 48 boxes of cremated remains in the vacant property in October, The Temple News reported. At the time, police did not say how they would handle the remains.
Baker closed in September 2017 after repeatedly failing to file tax returns, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The third-generation funeral parlor began operating in 1975 and was known for its “standard of excellence,” its owner Vince Baker told The Philadelphia Tribune in 2017.
Vince Baker could not be reached for comment.
While still in operation, Baker Funeral Home hosted at least three or four funerals a day, often opening early in the morning to prepare, said Guadalupe Patilla, who lives on Norris Street near Carlisle.
“He buried just about everybody that lives around there,” said Patilla, who has lived in the neighborhood for 73 years.
The home was a “neighborhood landmark,” so seeing it demolished is a shame, Patilla, who works in Temple housekeeping department, added.
“A lot of the history of North Philadelphia just seems to be falling down to the wayside because they want to be putting a lot of these high-rises up here,” she said.
Janet King, who lives on 15th Street near Diamond, said that when private developers want to build something in the neighborhood, they often get their way.
“Broad Street is becoming a high-rise strip now,” said King, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1983.
“It’s going to be sad,” King added. “It’s not going to be the neighborhood I moved to.”