phdc

Our unsurprising recommendation

A phenomenal and thorough article appeared in yesterday's Daily News, detailing an interesting aspect of the City's efforts to deal with the 5,100 dangerous properties within its limits. It may surprise you to learn that almost 300 of those properties are owned by government agencies. Those agencies, if you're keeping track at home, include the Redevelopment Authority, the Department of Public Property, the Philadelphia Housing Authority, and PHDC. Of those 300, about 30 are considered imminently dangerous, which is to say that they need attention right away before they fall over.

These PHA homes were finally demolished after sitting vacant for years

The cost for L&I to demolish an unsafe home is about $15,000. That's actually quite reasonable. What's less reasonable is that their annual demolition budget is a mere $9M. That represents enough money to tear down about 600 homes per year. To save you the effort of doing the math, it will take eight and a half years to demolish all of the unsafe buildings in Philadelphia assuming the budget stays the same and no more buildings become unsafe in the intervening years. We have a feeling that our second assumption ain't too good.

So what can the City do? We have an idea that may just be crazy enough to work.

SELL THE UNSAFE CITY-OWNED PROPERTIES RIGHT AWAY!!!

And use the proceeds from the sales to demolish unsafe buildings all over town.

Development opportunities abound!

From time to time we come across an intersection and write about one development related story, only to find that a few months later that same intersection or very close to it becomes a hotbed of redevelopment stories.

One of our recent kicks is 6th & Thompson. While the northeast corner contains one of the cooler looking buildings in the neighborhood, both the northwest and southwest corners are huge vacant lots. Some of the lots on the northwest corner look like they serve as a green space for the neighborhood. While neighborhood green space is a beautiful thing, it’s clear that both of these corners represent tremendous development opportunities. Or at the least, one of them could be developed and the other maintained as open space.

Cool looking mixed-use rehab on northeast corner
Southwest corner

As far as what would be developed first, our money’s on the southwest corner. Formerly owned by a church, the five properties that make up this large lot were together purchased last year by Thompson Street Holdings LLC. With a purchase price of $250K, one would have to imagine that big plans are in store for this parcel.

We've passed by 2940 W. Thomson St. numerous times over the years, often wondering what purpose it once served and when it was last in use. Earlier this year, we noticed a 'For Sale' sign on the building, but never bothered to look into it, thinking it was snatched up the day after the sign went up. Seems we were mistaken.

The building

The property has been owned by PHDC since 1983, and was listed for sale in February for $130K. While that may seem like a strong price point for a building in Brewerytown, the dimensions of the lot make it a very attractive real estate investment. Checking in at 118' by 66', the lot could easily accommodate seven single family homes or a more creative multi-unit development. Or a combination of the two. Somehow, the building sat on the market for four months and was then taken off.

Last week, at two different RCO meetings, developers presented plans for two new homes on the 2000 block of Titan Street in Point Breeze. 2002 and 2004 Titan St. have been vacant lots for decades, but that situation should be changing very soon. At the South Philadelphia H.O.M.E.S. meeting last Monday, the developer told the assembled crowd that he purchased 2002 Titan St. at sheriff's sale about a year ago and had just purchased 2004 Titan St. from PHDC.

The future of a proposed development at 1021-25 S. 18th St. is in question after developer Vitaly Paluchenko presented his plans for the site for the second time last month to the SOSNA Zoning Committee. While this neighborhood has seen considerable redevelopment and tons of infill construction in recent years, these lots have remained empty. But if the developer has his way, three triplexes, designed by Harman Deutsch, will soon rise on the site.

As any Temple student or regular reader of this site is well aware, there's been a tremendous amount of new development in the area surrounding Temple in the last several years. So when we spotted a ZBA notice for a new development at 1901 N. 19th St., we figured it was just more of the same.

The lot

Standing on this corner, one wouldn't necessarily expect that one of the more satisfying student housing projects in the area is located just a block to the east. Despite that and all the other development in the area, this corner is particularly desolate, with a ton of vacant land to the north.