Groves Mansion UPDATE: Planning Board hearing scheduled for THIS Tues. 1/25.

This grand, Edwardian home was built for the owner of the
Baltimore and Philadelphia Steamboat Company.

James Brandenburger’s JRB Property Group, the owner of the Frederick S. Groves Mansion at 411 Lippincott Avenue, now wants to tear down this 1901 home of a steamboat company president after telling everyone for the past 10 months that he was going to sell it for restoration (without its side yards, on which he wanted to build new houses) and that he had a qualified buyer under agreement.

The Historical Society of Riverton and many neighbors have followed this situation closely and with growing concern, as that qualified buyer seems to have disappeared and the current owner has done no visible maintenance all year. Now it is listed on the Planning Board’s website for a hearing for a “Demolition Permit.”

Anyone can attend the hearing via Zoom here: PASSCODE: 813512

Documents filed so far are available here.

The home is a “contributing resource” to our Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Riverton Zoning Code zones the Mansion for preservation with a solid demolition ordinance. You’ll see that it flatly says you cannot demolish for the purposes of subdivision, and otherwise, the owner must prove that it can’t economically be made “safe for habitation or use” and that costs relating to “normal maintenance” cannot be considered in that calculation.

Brandenburger has not yet revealed what his arguments in favor of demolition might be. It will be interesting to see, considering that we have heard from several folks interested in buying the whole place to restore, not just “make safe for habitation.”

This developer has a history of teardowns, including a similar situation in Haddon Township in 2017. Riverton, though, is a National Register Historic District and has a Master Plan that sets strong public policy against projects such as this.

This article is a follow-up to previously published columns in the May 2021 and August 2021 issues of the Gaslight News as well as in these website posts – A unique Riverton restoration opportunity! April 13, 2021 and Save the Groves Mansion and grounds; Save the neighborhood Aug. 20, 2021

Published by

John McCormick

Teacher at Riverton School 1974-2019, author, amateur historian, Historical Society of Riverton Board Member 2007-2023, newsletter editor 2007-2023, website editor 2011-2023

3 thoughts on “Groves Mansion UPDATE: Planning Board hearing scheduled for THIS Tues. 1/25.”

  1. James Brandenburger’s JRB Property Group Probably lied to everyone about restoring it. They are an immoral company and should be shut down. They have done this before and just awful.

  2. I find it curious that a man in the business of building homes is unable to restore this one. Did he not know what would be needed for a restoration prior to purchase? Isn’t that his livelihood? If he cannot restore the home he needs to sell it to someone who will. He should also be forbidden from buying any other properties in Riverton, he’s shown his true self.

  3. Forgive me for being late to this party … but with the wonderful history behind this property it seems to me that someone from one of the HGTV restoration shows might be interested in this extraordinary project.

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