End in Sight For Blight at 18th & Delancey Thursday, May 18, 2017
Ah, 325 S. 18th St., our great white whale. This property was the very thing that first piqued our interest in real estate over a decade ago, as we wondered how a building on one of the primest corners in town could be sitting blighted and crumbling. It was with some naivete that we started doing research on the property, thinking that nobody else had gotten the idea to try to buy the place over the years. Needless to say, we were not alone in trying to buy the place. And in failing to do so, we were in some great company.
It was way back in the summer of 2011 that we first wrote about this property, hoping that neighbors could help fill in some of the blanks about how the building ended up in its blighted state. In 2012, it looked like work was finally moving forward, but those efforts were incredibly short lived. Inga Saffron wrote a detailed article about the history of the property the next year, with comments from the owner about plans to eventually rehab the property, but the article also noted the numerous violations on the property over the years. We were not optimistic that anything would happen, and when we visited the property in the spring of 2016, the building was in slightly worse shape than before with no renovation in sight.
As we've told you on multiple occasions over the years, people that are frustrated with permanently blighted properties in their neighborhood can sometimes find recourse in an Act 135 conservatorship action. This act allows a neighbor to file with the court to take conservatorship over a blighted property, fix it up, and sell it off. So it was with some significant excitement last fall that we told you that an Act 135 action had been filed against this property. Nothing was set in stone at the time, of course, because property owners tend to fight these actions, for obvious reasons. But last week, we got word that a conservator has indeed been appointed by the court, which means that renovations should begin in the near future. As soon as the judge ruled in favor of conservatorship, a new fence appeared in the back of the property.
We reached out to the attorneys representing the conservator, who told us about something very odd that happened the day before the final conservatorship ruling. It seems that the owner of the property finally sold it to a developer, in an effort to avoid having the court appoint a conservator. Nevertheless, the judge still decided to award conservatorship, with a new hearing set for a couple months from now at which point conservatorship could be revoked if the sale of the property proves legit and the new owners can prove they will renovate and restore the property in a timely fashion. For the person who has done all the legwork to move through the conservatorship process, we hope they're able to see it through to the end. But if they lose conservatorship as a new owners steps forward, it will still result in the long awaited renovation of this property. For the long aggravated neighbors, this sounds like a win-win situation.