Philadelphia’s South Bridge. Toll Brothers seeks to build a residential tower in the city’s Jeweler’s Row, amid controversy from local residents and store owners.

Community controversy has surrounded Toll Brothers’ application for a permit to demolish five properties in Philadelphia’s Jewelers Row and develop the space into an 80-unit residential tower. A Preservation Alliance opposes the development, with the goal of designating Jewelers’ Row as a historic site. But Jeffrey Barksy, owner of Barksy Diamonds, believes that a new residential development would bring in new opportunities and new business while retaining the historic character of the area.

Barksy responds to the opposition by speaking on behalf of “many of my fellow merchants and building owners” and their interests. He points out that Jewelers Row has been disturbed in the past, which “changes to building facades…[and] several unoccupied storefronts,” and fears that a historic designation would bring down the jewelers’ property values by up to 50%.

“My hope is that we will not let a select group delay progress or negatively impact what we, as the families and individuals who have long owned businesses and buildings on Jewelers Row, see as true opportunity for rejuvenating our community,” Barksy says.

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