City of Philadelphia: Vacant Property Strategy

In October of 2011, the Department launched a new initiative as, part of a larger program led by the Managing Directors Office and the Finance Directors Office, regarding how both City and privately owned vacant property is bought, sold, and maintained.

The Department identified approximately 25,000 structures in its database that were believed to be vacant because the owner had either obtained a vacant property license, or had been cited for violations that are the likely indicators of vacancy.  The Department mapped these properties, and depending on the market conditions of the overall neighborhood, planned to use a variety of legal tools to hold owners for the state of their properties.

Having identified these properties, the Departments current initiative is characterized by three main objectives.

  • Finding the Right Owners: In the past, the City faced difficulties in holding private property owners responsible for the conditions of their blighted or vacant properties. In its current initiative, the Department is using a dedicated team of researchers to cross-reference several databases to find good names and addresses for the owners of vacant properties.
  • Utilizing New Enforcement Measures: The Department now enforces the “doors and windows” ordinance passed by Philadelphia City Council that allows the Department to ask the court to find owners $300 per day per opening that is not covered with a functional door or window. In addition, State Act 90 allows the department to ask the court to attach these potentially high dollar fines to owner’s personal property.
  • Dedicating Court Time: In the past enforcement, efforts had run into difficulties getting cases into the court system. In its current initiative, the Department has worked alongside with the City of Philadelphia Law Department and Judge Bradley Moss to dedicate court dates exclusively to address vacant cases. This ensures that these cases flow through the legal process quickly.

Through efforts so far, the Department will collect over $1,000,000 in license and permit fees, fines, and unpaid taxes.

via City of Philadelphia: Vacant Property Strategy.

5025 Schuyler Street, Philadelphia, PA

From a neighbor:

I have been living next to this eyesore for 6 years now with my husband. The owner, a man who we’ve spoken to numerous times, has refused to do anything with this property. Our neighbors have pled with him to sell it, fought with him to clean up the overgrowth year after year and even called him for animals being trapped in the property. Recently, we had vandals break into the property to steal copper piping. Frankly I’m surprised it took this long for people to break in. I credit the delay only to our diligent neighbors and the burden that watching this property has taken on them.

One such neighbor has taken this person to court a number of years ago but I’m not sure what if anything came of the legal action. I’m also not sure what recourse my husband and I have to make this person responsible for this property and its maintenance. My husband and I anticipate trying to sell our house at some point and our property value is perpetually diminishing with each day that this owner takes no action. I’d like to call L&I but know what a bureaucratic mess it can be sometimes. If anyone can give us any helpful information as to how we can get some results, we’d be extremely grateful.

Frustrated and Fed Up

1142 Kenwyn Street Philadelphia, PA 19124

From a Citizen who wants to see this property cleaned up:

This property is located in the deeded community of North Woods. Recently a shirtless man was seen in the home, all windows have been bashed out and the doors are broken open. There are many children in the neighborhood and Edmunds elementary school is located around the corner. This is a nice neighborhood and it is very upsetting to see a property abandoned like this.

We suggest you call Licenses and Inspections (dial 311) and report the property as unsafe.  If you get no response, call your Ward Leader and/or City Councilperson – Maria Quinones-Sanchez – until appropriate action is taken.

Thanks for contributing to Abandoned Philadelphia!

6537 Algard Street, Philadelphia, PA 19135

From a Citizen who wants to see this property cleaned up:

Not only does it need to be cleaned up, but the doors are broken, the outside is a mess and the steps are broken.  No one is living in the house nor do they come to make sure its ok. It is really an eyesore. Don’t even know if someone could be inside. You need to see it to believe it.

154 N 60th Street Philadelphia PA 19139

Submitted by a Citizen, who would like to see the property cleaned up.

Owners: Evelyn & Vivian C. Jenkins
Their address listed is not this property. 

Date of last sale: 10/5/1981 for $1

Taxes Due: $17,576, last paid in 1994 (according to the OPA)

Without going into much research, we would guess the current owners inherited the property, and then either moved away and/or died.

If this property is unsafe and/or causing a public nuisance, contact Licenses and Inspections (dial 311), your Block Captain, Ward Leader, City Council person.  Make noise until someone takes action.

4827 N 9th Street Philadelphia

From a Citizen:

The current owner of the house has not come to check up on the place for at least 5 months, there are no doors, the stench is unbearable and at night since there is no security who knows what that house is being used for.

Abandoned Philadelphia Writes:

Owners: Jeffrey and Victoria Vogel

The Deed recites that the property was purchased on April 15, 1999 from Victoria Vogel’s mother, Yvette Halawani.  Although executed in 1999, the deed was not recorded in the Philadelphia Recorder of Deeds until August 6, 2004. Curious.  We have often wondered why someone would execute a deed and not bother to record it until years later.

Purchase Price $10,000

The really interesting thing about this property is that it was bought for $10,000 in 1999, the deed recorded in August 2004, and in November 2004 a lender put a $51,600 mortgage on it. I wonder if the mortgage is current?

The Vogels’ home address, as listed in 2004, shows more than  $11,000 in back taxes.

We suggest immediate and repeated calls to Licenses and Inspections, City Councilwoman Marian Tasco, 49th Ward Leader (Democratic-Shirley Gregory (215) 389-4627, Republican-Elizabeth Blong (215) 329-7248) , Block Captain, anyone else willing to listen, to get the City take appropriate action in addressing the safety issues.

3748 N Palaski Street

Thanks for the reader submission, but the address submitted, 3748 Palaski Street, does not exist in Philadelphia. There is a Pulaski Avenue, but no address 3748.

Please, readers, be sure to get the address right.  You can always check an address at the City’s Office of Property Assessment site, found HERE.  Once on the site, you will see much useful information about the owner, when the property last sold, and the current taxes.

Wonder What Vacant Property the City Owns?

Well, wonder no more. This is another piece of fantastic work by PlanPhillly and Patrick Kerkstra.

City’s “Front Door” Cracks Open

At last, the city’s enormous inventory of mostly vacant surplus land is being made available online for would-be buyers.

The Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority’s “Front Door” – essentially a database and map of the city’s property holdings, coupled with a streamlined sales process – has been in the works for over a year and a half. Some of it goes live today, albeit in a limited form, on the PRA’s website.

The initiative – which won’t be formally launched until next month – represents the Nutter administration’s most notable achievement to date in Philadelphia’s long-running fight against blight.

There are an estimated 40,000 vacant parcels in Philadelphia, empty lots and abandoned buildings that depress property values, mar neighborhoods and pose safety risks. Of those, more than 12,000 are owned by city-related agencies.

Before the Front Door, would-be buyers of those city owned lots were forced to navigate a confusing bureaucratic thicket of city land-holding agencies with conflicting policies and agendas, without the benefit of a written rulebook.

Now, the Nutter administration contends, developers, non-profits and average residents will be able to easily submit applications to purchase city owned vacant properties through the PRA’s Front Door. And the entire process will be governed by a new policy document (which has been previously reported on by PlanPhilly).

“What’s different about this (policy) is that it exists. There are no policy documents that exist right now for the disposition of land certainly none that are consistent, none that are comprehensive,” said Bridget Greenwald, the new commissioner of the city’s Public Property department.

Check out the map and more here:  City’s “Front Door” cracks open | PlanPhilly: Planning Philadelphia’s Future.


2746 N. 19th Street

From the Philadelphia OPA:

Owner – Gertrude Sayles

Real Estate Tax Balance Information

Year Principal Interest Penalty Other Total Lien#
2000 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
2001 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
2002 $331.49 $278.46 $23.20 $137.57 $770.72 L020100211
2003 $331.49 $248.62 $23.20 $132.20 $735.51 RL00013967
2004 $331.49 $218.79 $23.20 $126.83 $700.31 RL00126125
2005 $331.49 $188.95 $23.20 $121.46 $665.10 RL00234964
2006 $331.49 $159.12 $23.20 $116.09 $629.90 RL00346226
2007 $331.49 $129.28 $23.20 $110.71 $594.68 RL00496416
2008 $331.49 $99.45 $23.20 $105.35 $559.49 RL00600415
2009 $331.49 $69.62 $23.20 $99.98 $524.29 RL00695720
2010 $331.49 $39.78 $23.20 $94.60 $489.07 RL00847133
2011 $331.49 $9.95 $9.94 $42.28 $393.66 RL00996159
2012 $288.25 $4.32 $0.00 $0.00 $292.57
TOTALS THROUGH 03/30/2012 $3,603.15 $1,446.34 $218.74 $1,087.07 $6,355.30
Property Characteristics
Land Area: 828.64 SqFt Improvement Area: 1110 SqFt
Improvement Description: ROW 2 STY MASONRY Beginning Point: 274’4″ N SEDGELY AVE
Exterior Condition: Average Council District: 08
Note: Please send zoning questions regarding a property change to:
Please direct all other zoning questions to:
Zoning: R10A Zoning Code Description: Single Family Row and Twin
Certified Values for 2012 Sales Information
Market Value: $18,300 Sales Date: 2/15/1996
Assessed Land (Taxable): $1,376 Sales Price: $1
Assessed Improvement (Taxable): $4,480
Assessed Land (Exempt): $0 Tax Information
Real Estate tax: $552.34
Assessed Improvement (Exempt): $0
Total Assessment: $5,856

4914 Pentridge Street 19143

According to the public records:

Owner: Frank Williams
Taxes due: $18,199
Last paid: 1985

This property was conveyed to the current owner in 1985 for $1 by Earl D. Springer, legatee under the Will of Raymond E. Springer . It appears taxes have not been paid on this property since it was conveyed.

According to Zillow, there is activity in this neighborhood. See Zillow report here.

For information about this or any other topics concerning abandoned and/or vacant property in Philadelphia, contact Abandoned Philadelphia at (215) 592-9595 or

PlanPhilly: Should city bank on land bills that finally lay down the law?

We are certain any effort by the City will have its challenges, and we are not sure this it the right approach, but it seems the current slate of City Council members are serious about doing something to correct the problem.

Ordinances introduced in City Council by Maria Quinones-Sanchez and Bill Green are designed to fix Philadelphia’s broken land management systems by creating one focused new agency, a land bank, and give it the authority to acquire tax delinquent properties as it chooses.

via – PlanPhilly: Should city bank on land bills that finally lay down the law?

2330 Saint Albans Place

This is the block where the movie “The Sixth Sense” was filmed.  It is generally a beautiful, historic block with stately homes and a mix of longtime residents and transplants.  This property is an eyesore to the block and community.

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Abandoned City | PlanPhilly: Planning Philadelphia’s Future

The Redevelopment Authority of Philadelphia (RDA) is undergoing an overhaul by the administration of Mayor Michael Nutter, aimed at making its inventory and dispoal policies more transparent and accessible to the public. The state-chartered entity, which has the power of eminent domain and to dispose of property for less than market-value, has conveyed thousands of vacant properties over the past few decades to individuals, companies, and organizations. Most have been redeveloped – but not all. The map below shows about half of all properties (data source errors currently make a complete list impossible) which were conveyed by the RDA since 1986, but remain vacant today. Please note: many approved redevelopment projects consisted of the acquisition of vacant lots as private side yards, which still show up as “vacant.”

Abandoned City | PlanPhilly: Planning Philadelphia’s Future.

Is PHA Finally Going to Sell?





If recent events are any indication, it just might come to pass that the Philadelphia Housing Authority, which owns about 4,000 vacant properties, will sell off some and hopefully all of its unwanted parcels.  This disgraceful policy of holding them has been an affront to Philadelphia’s residents who face plenty of obstacles in stemming the creeping deterioration of the housing stock and the fabric their neighborhoods.

Community groups and non-profit developers are eagerly waiting for more information.

Let’s hope Michael Kelly, PHA’s new Administrator, has the will and political muscle to see through the initiative he started to sell these properties.

Read more: PHA Looking for Takers

A Plea from Parkside

This posting is from a neighbor in the Parkside section:

I am with the Viola Street Residents Association a grassroots community group in the East Parkside section of West Philadelphia.  We have at least eleven (11) abandoned properties (most of them for years) and 7 vacant lots on our street alone!   We are desperately trying to find a solution to slow down the deterioration of these properties and hopefully saving them for future rehabilitation. We DO NOT WANT ANY MORE DEMOLITION!  We want and need development that will benefit the current residents.   We already had an abundance of “tear downs” due to the condition of the property and demolition under NTI.   I can send you the addresses.  There is no need for me to point out how this saturation has impacted residents on our street and the health of our community.
4272, 4230, 4268, 4218, Viola Street and more..