After we told y’all about the massive residential development potentially coming to the 1300 block of Bainbridge Street in the near future, a reader checked in, asking about a couple of mysterious vacant lots nearby. It’s already curious that the northeast and southwest corners of 13th & Kater are vacant, and the expected new development in the area makes it even more surprising.

Let’s try to figure out what’s going on here, shall we?

1240 South St, etc

The northeast corner of 13th & Kater, also known as 1240-52 South St., 613-615 S. 13th St., 1237 Kater St., and 1243 Kater St., is a huge lot with almost 20,000 sqft of open space. Years ago, a few disgusting, blighted properties stood on the corner, but these have been demolished. The South Street property was purchased by G & W South Street Partnership for $223,500 (or maybe $107,500, public records disagree) in 1987. The rest were bought in 2007 for considerably more. This company pays their taxes on the lots, which exceed $10,000 per year. The company is based in Florida, and from what we can find, doesn’t own any other lots in town. So… who wants to offer them a few million bucks for this awesome parcel? Paging Mr. Dranoff

Southwest corner of 13th and Kater

Meanwhile, catty corner to this lot is another large parcel, consisting of eleven separate lots, all owned by Uni-Penn Homeownership Inc. These lots were all granted to this company in 2005, by the RDA. Digging a little deeper, we came to realize that this is the same company that built and sold the 109 new construction affordable homes in this neighborhood in the last several years. As we understand it, this was a joint venture between Universal Companies and PHA. Can you imagine, Universal and/or PHA sitting on vacant land for years? Seriously, we’re having trouble believing it, too.

So there you go, folks. One lot held by an absentee landlord, the other by a joint venture company that builds affordable housing and can afford to sit on land indefinitely. While the surrounding neighborhood continues to improve, these lots could conceivably continue to sit vacant for years to come.

Any ideas on getting these landowners to either build or sell, please send ’em our way.