The gentrification wave that’s crashed over the Graduate Hospital neighborhood over the last twenty years has radically transformed the area. Before this surge, Grad Hospital included over a thousand vacant lots and empty buildings, but at this point you don’t have to go much beyond your fingers and toes to count every such property in the neighborhood. This being the case, it’s reached the point that every little rehab or new construction project is cause for attention in this part of town, which is probably how the people living in Fairmount or Society Hill have felt for a long time.

This brings us to the northwest corner of 20th & Kimball. It was back in June of 2013 that we first brought your attention to a pair of homes here, noting that they had been sitting vacant and blighted for years. We told you that the homes were scattered site PHA homes and lamented that the agency had allowed the structures to fall into such disrepair. We expressed hope that PHA would either repair the homes and get tenants in place or sell off the properties to developers, of either the affordable or market rate variety.

In the past

By the end of that summer, PHA tore down the two homes after L&I posted the properties with violations demanding repairs or demolition. We were cheered that the blighted buildings were torn down, and left to wonder what would come next. We figured PHA would either build something new or quickly sell the properties. PHA elected to take the latter approach, but for some reason they waited nearly FIVE YEARS to list the properties for sale.

The two properties were listed for $600K, and developers ended up paying a staggering $726K, which gives you an indication of the heat in the market in this neighborhood. We suggested that whoever ended up buying the properties could build a five-unit building, a pair of duplexes, or a pair of homes. We weren’t exactly correct with any of our guesses though, as the developers are now building one duplex and one triplex- but now that we think more about it after the fact, that’s probably the most lucrative approach for the property. Expect the units to be sold as condos.

Current view

While we’re here, it seems like a convenient time to provide a quick update on 1004 S. 20th St., the block’s other long blighted building. We’ve mentioned this property a few times before, since it’s had a tree growing out of it for as long as we can remember. And we’re sorry to say, it still looks like crap!

Vacant home to the north

This won’t be the case much longer though. Developers bought the property and are now working through permitting to tear it down. We have a pretty strong inclination that they’ll build a duplex in its place. We should also mention, these developers bought the property for a mere $150K at the end of last year. That’s more than a 50% discount, compared to the properties just a few doors down. We don’t know how they managed to get that price, and we wonder whether an eminent domain case pursued against the property in 2017 had anything to do with the matter. Whatever the reason for the price, we have to think that the neighbors will just be glad to see this building torn down and for something new to appear in its place. After all these years, we confess we didn’t think we’d ever see the day.