Skillful negotiations by Ballard Spahr attorneys in a complicated land swap were instrumental in obtaining approvals for a $150 million museum in Philadelphia dedicated to the American Revolution. The Museum of the American Revolution, sure to be another jewel in Philadelphia’s cultural crown, will be located just steps from Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.
In 2006, The National Center for the American Revolution selected Ballard Spahr to help it acquire a site for the Museum. The firm helped the Museum obtain a rezoning of 78 acres of land adjacent to Valley Forge National Historic Park, as well as zoning board and land development approvals for the Museum and visitor center.
When it became necessary to change the location of the Museum, Ballard Spahr responded with agility. Our attorneys, led by Neil Sklaroff, shifted their focus to an exchange of the Valley Forge property for the site of a former visitors’ center at Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia.
All parties shared concerns about how excavation and construction might affect historical resources on the property itself and the surrounding historic sites, including the First Bank, Constitution Hall, the Merchant Exchange Building, and the U.S. Custom House. Since three Native American tribes may have inhabited the property before colonization, any artifacts that are unearthed will require special handling and preservation.
The firm helped the Museum successfully make the case for the new site and won the approval of a multitude of stakeholders, including the National Park Service, Pennsylvania’s Historical and Museum Commission, the City of Philadelphia, the Native American nations and various community associations and civic leaders.
A separate negotiation with federal lawyers over the relative value of the two properties resulted in the Museum receiving a significant payment from the National Park Service. In addition, our attorneys successfully persuaded City Council to rezone the site.
Ballard Spahr is continuing to assist the client in the months leading up to the groundbreaking.
“Securing a home and approval for the project was a hard-fought battle, but in the end we achieved the goal of creating a valuable cultural landmark,” Mr. Sklaroff said. “It’s fitting that this new museum will tell the story of our nation in the city known as the birthplace of American democracy.”