Land sale for Mormon temple final

The $70 million Mormon temple project set for the Benjamin Franklin Parkway is one step closer to construction after The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints finalized its $7.5 million purchase of the land last week.

Ground breaking for the project could take place as early as the spring, pending land and zoning approvals, officials said. The site at 18th and Vine Streets, currently a surface parking lot, was sold by a firm affiliated with the Klein Co. Architects are now working on drawings for the facility.

“We are sure hoping [ground breaking] will be some time in the spring and early summer,” said Elder Robert Smith, who oversees operations in northeast America. “We’re prepared to go ahead as soon as all those things are in line.”

Construction is expected to take about two years, with an opening projected for 2013. The temple will be part of a remodeled Parkway that will also include the Barnes Museum, scheduled to open in 2012. It is expected to serve roughly 40,000 members.

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