Northeast Times

City-owned vacant buildings and land are up for sale

There’s some land in Phil­adelphia the city wants to sell — at reas­on­able prices. There’s some oth­er land the city wants to sell for a buck.

Si­mone Smith, Frank­ford Neigh­bor­hood Ad­vis­ory Com­mit­tee co­ordin­at­or, told mem­bers that the Phil­adelphia Re­devel­op­ment Au­thor­ity has an on­line list of city-owned va­cant build­ings and va­cant land at phillyland­works.org.

Keep in mind that these are not dream prop­er­ties, but they have po­ten­tial. The prop­er­ties on the list are not homes in move-in con­di­tion or even homes that need mod­er­ate im­prove­ments. Also, they are not func­tion­al store­fronts, Smith said dur­ing the NAC’s Aug. 8 ses­sion at the Second Baptist Church of Frank­ford at Mead­ow and Mul­berry streets.

The city does have va­cant lots large and small and va­cant build­ings, and the prices might be very, very low. Po­ten­tial buy­ers can go on­line and ex­press in­terest in the prop­erty by fol­low­ing the site’s in­struc­tions, Smith said. And there are some lim­its put on pur­chasers.

“There are some things you can and can not use the prop­erty for,” she said. “It de­pends on zon­ing.”

For ex­ample, a buy­er might want to turn an ad­ja­cent lot in­to a drive­way and might need a zon­ing vari­ance to do that, she said.

And the city wants pay­ment up­front, Smith said, which means buy­ers have to ar­range their own fin­an­cing and be pre­pared to pay trans­fer fees and taxes.

Mak­ing these prop­er­ties avail­able at bar­gain prices is a year-old pro­gram, said Jason Dawkins, an aide to Coun­cil­wo­man Maria Quinones Sanc­hez (D-7th dist.)

There also is a “side lot” pro­gram that makes some lots avail­able for a buck, Dawkins said.

ldquo;If you live next to a va­cant city-owned prop­erty, you can buy it for a dol­lar,” Dawkins told NAC mem­bers last week.

To see if the prop­erty is eli­gible for this pro­gram, Dawkins said, in­ter­ested parties may call him at 215-686-3448.

“We’ll vet the prop­erty for you,” he said.

NAC mem­bers and res­id­ents quickly dis­posed of a few zon­ing mat­ters last week by vot­ing not to op­pose vari­ance ap­plic­a­tions for:

  • Ex­pan­sion of a day-care cen­ter in­to an ad­ja­cent va­cant build­ing at 3959 Frank­ford Ave.
  • A gro­cery store at 1167 Bridge St. The prop­erty, empty for sev­en years, pre­vi­ously had been a gro­cery store be­fore it was a law of­fice and res­id­ence.
  • A kit­chen ex­pan­sion in a private home at 1950 Bridge St.

Mem­bers were also re­minded to ap­ply for the $30,000 Homestead Ex­emp­tion. Own­ers who live in their homes are eli­gible to have $30,000 re­moved from the tax­able as­sess­ment of their prop­er­ties. If the ex­emp­tion is gran­ted for a prop­erty as­sessed at $50,000, for ex­ample, the own­er would pay taxes on only $20,000 of the as­sess­ment. The dead­line to ap­ply is Sept. 13. Call the Homestead Hot Line at 215-686-9200 to ap­ply over the phone.

So far, only about two-thirds of the homeown­ers eli­gible for the ex­emp­tion have ap­plied. ••

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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