Map of Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority Available Properties

This map is the Redevelopment Authority’s go-to site for anyone wanting to make an “Expression of Interest” to buy City-Owned property.  It is not clear exactly how this effort will pan out and whether political influence is still required.  The current system requires that anyone wanting to buy a vacant City-owned parcel would typically go to the Vacant Property Review Committee and present their case.  Support form the Council member in whose district the property was located was essential to an approval from the VPRC.

Anyone out there have any success buying from the City?

PRA Available Properties.

via PRA Available Properties.

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.


NorthStar Point Breeze LLC – NSP Program Attempts to Fight Blight

Under the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, a Federal program to renew urban areas, the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority is administering the program in certain Philadelphia neighborhoods.

One of the developers involved in this program is NorthStar Point Breeze LLC, which is developing six new homes for sale to qualified buyers.  Unlike other NSP developers, NorthStar bought the lots from private owners.  These lots had been sitting vacant for years accruing taxes, liens and generally detracting from the neighborhood.

Take a look at the progress at the NorthStar Point Breeze website.

Why are we a city full of holes?

There are more than 40,000 abandoned lots in Philly. Why are we a city full of holes?

Theres maybe no single issue that permeates every facet of city life — crime, politics, gentrification, development, happiness — more deeply than Philadelphias 40,000-plus vacant and abandoned lots. Theyre arguably our biggest problem, and also our biggest opportunity. An empty lot is usually one dream gone bad and another unfulfilled. Its nothing and anything.

via The Vacant Land Issue | Philadelphia City Paper | 07/21/2011.

Seeking answers on blight in one section of Phila. | Philadelphia Inquirer | 05/13/2011

A recently formed coalition called the Campaign to Take Back Vacant Land recently released a report, “Put Abandoned Land in Our Hands.”  According to this report, 25 percent of the properties in the section from Girard to Lehigh Avenues and Front to 10th Streets are vacant or blighted.

They are seeking support to turn this deplorable situation around.

Seeking answers on blight in one section of Phila. | Philadelphia Inquirer | 05/13/2011.

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..

In North and West Philadelphia, two urban renewal plans move forward | PlanPhilly: Planning Philadelphia’s Future

Community organizations in North and West Philadelphia came a step closer this week to turning blocks of mostly vacant or abandoned properties into new housing, a health and wellness center and a mixed-use development.

The Philadelphia Planning Commission Tuesday approved an amendment to the Model Cities Urban Renewal Plan, authorizing the redevelopment authority to acquire 54 properties on the block bounded by 21st and 22nd streets, Cecil B. Moore Avenue and Nicholas Street in North Philadelphia. Project H.O.M.E plans to build a health and wellness center in cooperation with Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. The commission also approved the acquisition of 2804 West Oakdale Street, which will become part of a Philadelphia Housing Authority residential development project.

via In North and West Philadelphia, two urban renewal plans move forward | PlanPhilly: Planning Philadelphia’s Future.

Desolate to Dynamic | PlanPhilly: Planning Philadelphia’s Future

Last part in a series: APM isn’t just about reclaiming a neighborhood’s infrastructure. The non-profit development agency changes the people who come in contact with it

Photo Gallery Browse through some of APM’s most changed vacant lots

Desolate to Dynamic | PlanPhilly: Planning Philadelphia’s Future.

What Will Become of The Divine Lorraine?

The Kingston Lounge, “Guerrilla Preservation and Urban Archaelogy” has posted a moving and informative photo journal of the history and recent dismemberment of this once-grand landmark on North Broad Street. While we strive to grapple with the shells on our blocks and in our neighborhoods, it is sometimes easy to forget that we have architectural treasures that are falling apart in our bustling commercial center as well.  Thanks, Kingston, for reminding us and for the moving pictures. From The Kingston Lounge on the Divine Lorraine Hotel –

It is unacceptable that this building, a national as well as a local landmark, is falling prey to demolition-by-neglect. While the figure of Father Divine and the nature of his movement may be controversial, it is uncontroversial that he was an important precursor to the civil rights struggle, and that the Divine Lorraine had a significant role in this history, both by association and by virtue of its status as the first integrated hotel in Philadelphia. Further, it is a remarkable building, and one of the few Hale commissions still standing. The avarice of a developer who gutted the building, “taking her for all she was worth”, and then walked away, should not be allowed to cause the eventual destruction of this treasure. I would urge all of my readers in Philadelphia to get involved on some level with the preservation of this structure. And I would urge all of my readers outside of Philadelphia to spread the word. If there is enough public outcry over this, if the right people are appropriately shamed, perhaps the Divine Lorraine stands a chance of being a jewel of Philadelphia once again.

We second Kingston.  Read the history and view the pictures of this faded glory on N. Broad Street: The Kingston Lounge: The Divine Lorraine Hotel.

Some Shuttered Schools Experience Rebirth | PlanPhilly: Planning Philadelphia’s Future

Yellow heart pine floors stretch across apartments filled with architectural details like oversized windows, beamed ceilings, and detailed wainscoting. On the roof, a sprawling deck offers perfect views of Center City, while downstairs, a rec room and fitness facility await the condo owner at Hawthorne Lofts, 12th and Fitzwater Streets.

Not long ago, though, this was just another empty building – the Nathaniel Hawthorne School, built in 1909, entered on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966, and long since closed – set amidst the ragged debris of a neighborhood in transition.

Read more:  Some shuttered schools experience rebirth | PlanPhilly: Planning Philadelphias Future.

John Kromer – Philadelphia’s Next and Last Sheriff?

Kromer seems to be in a position to address the abandoned property situation in Philadelphia.  As an expert in the field, he is certainly more qualified than the recently departed and the current acting Sheriff.

John Kromer – Philadelphia’s Next and Last Sheriff?.

We Also Have Abandoned Ocean Liners

Not really abandoned.  But this decrepit ship, once the majesty of the seas, has been rotting on our waterfront for years.  Thank goodness for Gerry Lenfest and his efforst ro preserve it rather than let it be sold for scrap.  Read the story below.

From Plan Philly:

February 1, 2011

By Steven Ujifusa

This afternoon, at a reception at the South Philadelphia IKEA cafe, the ocean liner SS United States became the property of the SS United States Conservancy. According to the terms of the $5.8 million grant from philanthropist H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest, the nonprofit group now has 20 months to raise the funds needed to redevelop the ship as a stationary attraction, most likely either in New York or Philadelphia.

Read complete story: A big step for the Big U | PlanPhilly: Planning Philadelphia’s Future.

The Bright Side of Blight –

The Bright Side of Blight


Published: January 24, 2011


EVEN in Philadelphia, with its 40,000 vacant properties and a quarter of its population living below the poverty line, the Kensington neighborhood still shocks. On a frigid afternoon, a prostitute lingers in the shadow of the elevated train tracks, waiting restlessly for customers. Husks of long-closed factories stand amid thigh-high winter wheat. Streams of garbage flow down the streets, as if both the people and the city government had agreed to forsake the effort of propriety.

via The Bright Side of Blight –

Great News for Point Breeze and Grays Ferry Philadelphia

Those of you who have followed the Universal Companies’ activities will not be surprised that Kenny Gamble has secured a large grant to continue the the renewal of Point Breeze and Grays Ferry.

Kenny Gamble’s redevelopment plan gets a U.S. grant | Philadelphia Inquirer | 01/25/2011.