Last week, we wrote about the surprising vacant lot next to Pat’s Steaks, and in response, a reader checked in with some questions about another nearby lot. If it’s been a little while since you’ve been to Cheesesteak Row, you probably remember the southwest corner of Passyunk & Wharton looking something like this:

Looks awful

As we alluded to the other day, this lot was totally transformed by the Rachael Ray Show about a year ago. With local contractor Mr. Contractor running the site, the show transformed this blighted, concrete lot into a neighborhood garden paradise. In about a week’s time, the workers restuccoed the adjoining buildings, constructed 18 garden beds, built a living garden wall, installed a gutter system, established two rainwater platforms, and built the pergola that you see pictured below. Also, a couple of water cisterns were brought in, and a new fence erected. Once the stucco job was finished, two murals were painted on the walls behind the new garden space.

From a distance. Digging the murals.

Under the pergola

Check out the cisterns

Looks delicious

As you can see, the garden has thrived in the year since its creation. The Camden City Garden Club was retained to see to this, and locals in the neighborhood are also involved in plantings, harvesting, and keeping the space clean of cheesesteak wrappers and the like.

While it’s encouraging to see this lot transformed, we can only wonder, what took so long? And is there any way that the City can do a better job forcing the hands of property owners who own vacant land in desirable locations and happen to pay their taxes, but have no apparent interest in developing, selling, or maintaining it with any sort of consideration for the surrounding neighborhood?