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City's Sale of Boy Scouts' HQ Headed For Next Likely Legal Skirmish

By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- It appears the long-running controversy over the future of the Boy Scouts' historic building near the Benjamin Franklin Parkway is back on the front burner.

A pending deal to sell the city-owned landmark headquarters building to the BSA for $500,000 died with the turn of the calendar year, since Philadelphia City Council let the legislation languish without action (see previous story).

The sale of the property at 22nd and Winter Streets was intended to settle a federal lawsuit in which the Scouts prevailed, after gay rights groups complained about the national Boy Scouts' anti-gay policy.

Now, lawyers for the Cradle of Liberty Council, the Boy Scouts in Philadelphia, have filed court papers indicating both the city and Scouts have agreed that "the settlement process would never be approved by City Council."

Late in 2010, real estate developer Mel Heifetz, a former Eagle Scout, offered $1 million plus legal fees to buy the building. The city declined.

Now, Heifetz has reentered the picture, according to lawyer Bill Ewing, and he's willing to sweeten his bid.

"He will increase his offer, up to $2 million, if there's a bona fide offer higher than his," Ewing says.

The Heifetz offer includes turning the building over to a nonprofit organization that does not discriminate against gays -- including, presumably, the Cradle of Liberty Council if it renounces the national Boy Scouts' anti-gay policy.

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