Real estate dispute puts Philadelphia Temple in jeopardy

For more than two decades, the owner of two prime acres on Vine Street had big plans for turning a parking lot, stretching from 17th to 18th, into high-end housing.

Developer Stephen Klein tried six times to launch a project, and six times failed.

His seventh attempt - arguably the highest-end housing of them all - appeared to work.

On Aug. 10, he signed an agreement to sell the land for an undisclosed sum to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which announced plans to build a $68 million Mormon temple.

Church officials met with Mayor Nutter and City Council members. They reached out to Logan Square neighbors, including Cardinal Justin Rigali at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul.

But the future of the Mormon temple now is jeopardized by a battle between Klein and the city's Redevelopment Authority (RDA), which sold him the land for $3.7 million in 1986. Contending that he let it sit fallow too long, the agency has moved to reclaim the parcel.

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