Blighted Building Disappears at 18th & Fitzwater

The Graduate Hospital neighborhood has experienced a near complete transformation over the last twenty years, with thousands of new construction and renovation projects taking place during that time. It’s hard to conceive today, but there were hundreds of vacant lots and blighted buildings in this neighborhood at one point, and now blight and vacancy are very much the exception rather than the rule. It’s reached the point where blighted or vacant properties stick out like a sore thumb, with neighbors generally familiar with the stories of the few that remain in the neighborhood. So while passersby might guess that 740 S. 18th St. is owned by developers in Brooklyn, people who live nearby know that’s not the case at all.

In the past

Perhaps you recall (but we understand if you don’t), we brought this property to your attention way back in 2011. Back then, we told you that the property was owned by the same individual since the 1970s, and that this person lived in the home next door. We also mentioned that this person owed the City tens of thousands of dollars in property taxes between the two properties and wondered whether a sheriff’s sale might be in the offing. We’re pleased to share that the majority of the tax debts have now been cleared and that the longtime owner still owns both properties. We’re a little bummed, however, to pass along the news that the building at 740 S. 18th St. has been torn down over the last few weeks.

Current view

When we first heard about the demolition, we assumed that developers had purchased the property and were tearing down the old edifice in anticipation of something new. But that’s not the case. Instead, the building has come down because it was poorly maintained over the years and picked up some significant structural deficiencies as a result. Looking at public record, we see a staggering 52 violations on this property, many of which are still open, which resulted in the City-mandated demolition of the building. It’s a shame that the handsome and unique building has come down, but considering its imminently dangerous state, we’re just glad nobody got hurt.

We’re hearing that the longtime owner has no intention of selling the now vacant corner lot at this time, and might be looking to redevelop it at some point in the future. Unfortunately, whatever eventually gets built here will surely be less interesting than the building that came down, though we’d prefer a boring but safe building over a unique but dangerous building every day of the week. Of course a unique and safe building is the best case scenario, but it seems that ship sailed a long time ago.