Pennsylvania (Inga Saffron-Inquirer Architecture Critic) – The site where Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting is building a new meetinghouse was damaged by arsonists during Christmas week, and police are now “absolutely” sure the attack was the result of a dispute between members of a Philadelphia construction union and the project’s nonunion contractor.
Although no suspects have been identified in the Dec. 21 incident, Lt. George McClay of Northwest Detectives said Friday that he was certain the small Quaker building on East Mermaid Lane was targeted because it is being built with nonunion labor.
“I absolutely think it is a union issue,” McClay said.
If union members were involved, the attack would be the second violent incident in Philadelphia this year related to the use of nonunion construction workers. This spring, union protesters clashed with nonunion workers renovating the former Goldtex factory tower at 12th and Wood Streets for Post Bros., an apartment developer.
Unlike that high-profile development, the meetinghouse is a modest undertaking. The total cost for the building, which will include a work by the nationally recognized light artist James Turrell, is expected to run just over $6 million. Of that, about $3.5 million is being spent on construction.