March 22, 2015 |
Anuj Gupta and Brad Copeland are the backbone of Mt. Airy USA, one of the few nonprofit real estate developers focusing on distressed properties in East Mount Airy. They are pushing to include more residential units in its real estate portfolio, part of a "virtuous circle" that Gupta argues will revive the area. In June 2014, Mt. Airy USA rehabbed 59 E. Phil Ellena St., the first location it redeveloped using the state's Abandoned and Blighted Property Conservatorship Act of 2008, which lets community development and other groups take over tax-delinquent, blighted or vacant properties, and rehab or demolish them.
February 10, 2015 |
Editor note: Chillin' Wit' is an occasional Monday feature of the Daily News that spotlights a name in the news away from the job. JOB ITZKOWITZ, Old City District executive director, likes to keep an eye on what's happening in "America's most historic square mile. " That's considerably easier to do when you're 6 feet 7 and jacked up on coffee from Cafe Ole. "I think I'm still finding alleys that I didn't know about," Itzkowitz, 36, says after digesting Sunday's New York Post , then setting out on foot to admire new construction and fret about cracked sidewalks.
January 22, 2015 |
With the crack of metal against wood, and a rumble that briefly shook the sidewalk, the ornate molding that pointed skyward from the roof of the Louis Street house disappeared Tuesday morning into the jaws of an excavator's bucket. Within an hour, most of the building was on the street in a pile of bricks and debris, soon to be hauled away. The long-vacant house at 1510 Louis in Camden's Whitman Park neighborhood, one of many that officials say have harbored crime over the years, was gone by Tuesday afternoon.
December 23, 2014 |
Like many stretches of Camden's notorious Whitman Park neighborhood, crime blooms around the 1500 block of Louis Street. With seven vacant houses in less than a tenth of a mile, the area has been the scene of at least two recent fatal shootings, and, since late 2012, police have seized more than 400 bags of marijuana, cocaine, crack, and heroin, thousands in cash, and six illegal guns within a one-block radius. A year ago, after neighbors told police they feared one empty house on the block had become a haven for illegal activity, officers raided the building and found a safe loaded with a shotgun and drug paraphernalia.
September 15, 2014 |
In less than 10 seconds, the 16-story Queen Lane Apartments public housing building was imploded Saturday morning in Germantown, to the delight of many residents and neighborhood advocates happy to see the relic from a bygone era fall. Long a symbol of blight and urban ills, the 1950s-era Philadelphia Housing Authority building fell after a series of precisely timed explosions buckled its bones and rendered it into dust. A huge, gray-brown cloud billowed from the site, scattering debris, family memories, and any ghosts that may have haunted the nearly 60-year-old building.
May 3, 2014
Almost 40,000 negligent property owners owe Philadelphia $423 million in liens because the city had to clean up their filthy lots or knock down their dangerously deteriorated buildings. Or at least that's the best estimate available: The city's record-keeping system is so antique that it doesn't know exactly how much is due from some owners or where they can be found. Records of such nuisance liens reveal many discrepancies, The Inquirer's Claudia Vargas reported this week. Some properties were sold without clearing the liens, a basic element of most property sales.
April 16, 2014
Old City is showing its age. A fire and a collapse, separated only by a few weeks and the width of an intersection, have drawn renewed attention to the ascendant neighborhood's rich inventory of rotting buildings, which seem to defy the rules of real estate and economics. History, politics, and other idiosyncrasies contribute to the persistence of blight amid the renewed bustle of one of Philadelphia's oldest neighborhoods. But a common denominator is the apparent absence of government pressure on those determined to let their properties decay over the course of decades.
April 14, 2014 |
Deer and plants: As any suburbanite knows, it's a marriage made in horticultural hell. But Chuck Feld thought he was in the clear. Although 30 deer regularly cruised through Birmingham Gardens, his four-acre wholesale nursery in West Chester, thousands of boxwoods he was cultivating remained blessedly untouched. Feld's "box," as it's known, may have defeated the deer, but it was helpless against a new scourge: boxwood blight, which first showed up in Europe in the mid-1990s and in Connecticut and North Carolina in late 2011.
February 14, 2014 |
CITY OFFICIALS yesterday outlined how a new method of levying hefty fines against negligent property owners has spurred them to clean up their messes. Results of an analysis of the Department of Licenses & Inspections' targeted anti-blight program show that the combination of an existing city ordinance and a state law are having an impact on structural eyesores across the city. Philadelphia's "windows and doors" ordinance requires all properties in mostly occupied city blocks to have working windows and doors at all times.
December 19, 2013
Tackling blight It is incredibly heartwarming to know that advocates for disinvested communities, the poor, and the forgotten city have succeeded in making blighted and abandoned property something that's worth fighting over ("Her long trek to a land bank for Phila.," Dec. 16). And it is exciting, because places like Philadelphia - and Reading, Pottstown, and numerous other Pennsylvania cities - have a lot of abandoned property. And it has long been one of the things that has dragged us down, lowered property values, nurtured crime, and signaled urban failure and unworthiness.