What About Three Vacant Properties on 3rd Street?

A reader reached out to us today, frustrated about a trio of buildings on the 900 block of S. 3rd Street that have been sitting empty for a long time. 933-37 S. 3rd St. may sit across the street from the Southwark PHA homes, but they are also very close to some of the most attractive blocks in Queen Village.

Southwark homes on 3rd Street

Because of the Southwark homes, development has traditionally lagged on both the east side of 3rd Street and the west side of 5th Street between Christian Street and Washington Avenue. But we’ve seen multiple projects, large and small, on these blocks in the last few years, so these vacant properties certainly warrant an opportunity.

The three buildings

According to the reader that contacted us, neighbors have been calling 311 about the properties for years and squatters have been a problem in the past. Digging into some history, we see that 933-35 S. 3rd St. was occupied as recently as a decade ago as a group home. A listing from 2009 described 9.5 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, 2 living rooms, a kitchen, a double basement, and wheelchair accessibility. The property was listed for an absurd $1.2M and didn’t sell. Somewhere along the line, the group home must have closed up and it seems the owner of the property stopped paying their mortgage. Public record indicates that lenders foreclosed on both properties a couple months ago. This is great news for frustrated neighbors, as the bank will eventually list the properties for sale and they’ll get redeveloped. As for 937 S. 3rd St., it’s a bit of a different story.

A plaque on the front of the building indicates that it was home to the Emanuel Lutheran Church, a historic institution in the neighborhood. A history of Emanuel Lutheran from QVNA tells us that the congregation dates back to the 1860s and built a historic church at the corner of 4th & Carpenter. Unfortunately, the congregation contracted so severely that they were unable to maintain their home and ultimately they sold it to a Buddhist congregation in 2010, moving to the building pictured above. The QVNA story indicated a new momentum for the congregation a few years ago, but based on the feedback from the neighbors and the fact that their phone number has been disconnected, it seems the congregation is no longer actively using the building.

So there you have it. It’s a safe bet that two of the three buildings in question will get listed for sale in the near future and get redeveloped. As for the third building, we could see a number of different situations playing out. The trustees of the church could decide to sell the building, it could remain vacant for the foreseeable future, or perhaps the congregation will experience a revival and the building will remain under the same ownership and return to active use. Does anyone in the neighborhood know any more info about the Emanuel Lutheran Congregation that can fill in the gaps about what happened in the last few years?