Raise your hand if, at some point in the last decade or more, you've wandered past 325 S. 18th St. and wondered how there could possibly be a blighted and vacant building here, at one of the most desirable locations in town.
<Looking around, seeing a ton of hands in the air>
Yeah, we've pondered the case of this building ourselves, both privately and through the megaphone of the internet. We first wrote about it back in the summer of 2011, then we revisited it in 2012, hopeful that it was getting fixed up. Alas, when we checked in on the property earlier this year it still looked like crap. Needless to say, neighbors are entirely fed up with this property- it probably isn't impacting anybody's property value, but it's still got to be all kinds of aggravating to stare at this building as it slowly rots.
What to do? Teresa Isabella has owned the property since the 1970s and while she has done an awful job maintaining her building, she has done an impressive job of holding onto it. The building went to sheriff's sale several years ago because of unpaid taxes, but Isabella was able to stay the sale. At one point, according to a 2013 story from Inga Saffron, someone took the property through an illegal deed transfer, but Isabella fought in court to get the property back and succeeded. Surely, hundreds of people have offered to buy the property over the years but those offers have seemingly been rebuffed across the board.
Frustrated for so long, some neighbors are now attempting a different approach which could finally result in the renovation of the long-blighted property.
A reader emailed us last week, sending us a copy of a flyer from a CCRA-led meeting from last month regarding the property. A few neighbors have filed an Act 135 action, seeking to become conservators of the property. We've covered similar efforts in the past in other neighborhoods. For those unfamiliar, this act allows residents, businesses, or non-profits to take conservatorship over a blighted property, fix it up, and sell it off. According to the flyer, there's a court hearing tomorrow for this property which could determine whether this group of neighbors will gain conservatorship over the property and be granted permission to fix it up and sell it off. If history is any indication, the owner will fight this effort. But given her inability to maintain the property over the last decade plus, it's quite possible the judge will grant conservatorship in spite of any effort to argue against the filing.
We're cautiously optimistic, and can hope against hope that the property will soon finally get fixed up after all these years. If anyone makes it to the hearing, please provide us with an update!