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.


The Bad Neighbor Inititative

Bobby Henon is serious about fighting blight:

Bad Neighbor Initiative

Councilman Bobby Henon will engage in an aggressive education campaign to remind everyone in the 6th District that we need to be partners in the fight against blight and other quality of life issues. The goal will be to educate our community about the law and to encourage offenders to comply.

The Bad Neighbor Inititative.

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.

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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Philadelphia cracking down on owners of rundown properties

Philadelphia cracking down on owners of rundown properties

By Miriam Hill

Inquirer Staff Writer

Standing outside a blighted property in Port Richmond, Mayor Nutter declared war on people who neglect vacant buildings and lots.

“Let me put all property owners on notice right now,” Nutter said. “Philadelphia residents should not have to put up with this kind of crap. If you’re not being responsible, we’re going to come find you.”

At a Wednesday news conference, the mayor announced a three-part strategy to address vacant properties, widely considered one of the city’s largest and most costly challenges.

Nutter plans to:

Identify owners of vacant, blighted lots and buildings.

Begin fining them $300 a day for each window and door not up to code, meaning they must be usable and not boarded up.

Take owners who do not comply to Municipal Court’s new “blight court,” which can force them to fix their properties or pay the fines. The court has muscle because of a state law passed last year that lets the city go after owners’ personal assets if they don’t comply.

via Philadelphia cracking down on owners of rundown properties | Philadelphia Inquirer | 10/27/2011.

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.

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.

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

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.

Blight Fight: L&I prepares to hunt down absentee owners. | PlanPhilly: Planning Philadelphia’s Future

We at Abandoned Philadelphia have known for years what the rest of the community is picking up on.  Finally, the City kicks in some resources:

Tens of thousands of abandoned properties and vacant lots stretch across Philadelphia. Counts vary, but recent studies estimate at least 40,000 such properties, 75 percent of which belong to private owners — often delinquent on taxes and bills, often missing in action. In some cases, the owners might be dead or unwitting heirs. But others are slumlords and prospectors, whose game is to sit on these properties for as long as it takes to make a buck on them, while their properties attract crime, accumulate trash and fuel the spread of further blight.

Blight Fight: L&I prepares to hunt down absentee owners. | PlanPhilly: Planning Philadelphia’s Future.

The Waste Land: first part in a collaborative series called “The Abandoned City”

This story, a partnership between City Paper and PlanPhilly, is the first of a series – “The Abandoned City” – about vacant and abandoned city land, funded in part by a grant from J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism.

By Isaiah Thompson and Anthony Campisi

Of the many, many terrible things that have happened to Theresa Lugo in front of her house, getting stuck in the foot with a used syringe is not, if you can believe it, the worst — although that was bad.

She was loading the kids into the car for a trip to the beach, and had put on flip-flops: “The needle went right through my heel,” she recalls. Lugo now makes regular visits to a doctor for tests. So far, they’ve come back negative. “I never touched a drug in my life,” she muses, “and now I have to deal with this.”

That’s not all she and the other residents of the 300 block of Tusculum in Kensington have had to deal with — not by a long shot. In an already-rough area (the drug-ridden neighborhood is, among other things, the murder capital of the city), their block, a small row of tidy, owner-occupied houses, stands out.

Drug dealers, junkies and prostitutes roam the street at all hours. Ambulances arrive daily, if not more often, to retrieve the living or dead bodies of people who have overdosed. The sounds of beatings — and, sometimes, pleas for help — wake residents up at night.

The people on the block can point to a single, unique source of their misery: an old, mostly defunct railroad bed that passes their houses just below street level — just, that is, out of sight, winding its way through the roughest neighborhoods in the city like a kind of dry driver of drugs, prostitution, violence, murder and crime.

Their little street happens to be a major access point, and the access couldn’t be easier: The only barrier between this wild swath and their front porches is an ancient, crumbling iron fence, wide open or just plain missing in several spots on their block alone.



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.