Thursday, July 7, 2011

Empty Lot(s) of the Week-- July 7th

Luckless Lots of Locust Row

Halfway between 13th and Juniper Streets, Locust to Chancellor

Piece of shit #1
13th and Locust

Piece of fuck # 2
                        These lots don't look like such a big problem when you first see them. They're small, they are in convenient places to park if you're going to park on a surface lot, they have these murals on them. So what's the big deal? Why would these lots be a problem? BECAUSE THEY'RE BOTH 80 FUCKING YEARS OLD! Eighty years.
                        How do you stay an empty lot for that fucking long? Other empty lots that were long-lived in the area were built on by the end of the 80's... but what the fuck is wrong with these spots if they're still around now? Are they just extremely profitable surface lots or is there something mysterious about them?
                       The first spot, between 13th/Juniper and Locust/Chancellor, once held mansions of the elite from the extremely brief time period when this stretch was the new cool spot for rich people. Most of the storefront, office, and apartment buildings on the row were once each a single family home. The Library Company and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania are a legacy of that strange period that still exist on the street.

The Lot in 1916. The C.B. Newbold mansion on the left was only 19 years old but was already boarded up.
                The lot at the corner of 13th and Locust once held the College of Physicians building, which later became the Free Library of Philadelphia during the era when this stretch was known as Library Row due to the shitload of different Libraries that existed there.     

The College of Physicians during the height of the neighborhood.

Towards the end of its life in 1916 as the Free Library HQ.
                     In 1929-31, some early urban renewal was going on nearby on Broad Street. The once great neighborhood had long gone to shit and historical preservation wasn't invented yet. The old mansions midway between 13th and Juniper were pieces of shit. They were knocked the fuck down in favor of a lot that would live on until the present.

Birth of a luckless lot.
                    As for 13th and Locust, a separate urban renewal program was just about done and the Free Library moved to their current building, leaving the old College of Physicians building to rot. It met it's end after almost 70 years. The lot that replaced it is now 10 years older than the building was when demolished.

The second lot is born. Ignore the interdimensional gateway opening up on the left.
                    What a damn shame. The lot between 13th and Juniper has been owned by some guy in the burbs since 1983 and has been assessed at 1.095 Million dollars. The lot at the corner of 13th and Locust was purchased by Parkway Corp. in 2008 for 2.7 Million dollars. Considering the astronomically high property taxes these owners are paying, these lots must be profitable as fuck. Any rich-ass developers or speculators reading this shit? Buy these lots and build on them, motherfucker!


  1. Wow. Talk about letting this lie fallow. What a disgrace.

    Are these empty lot posts a good starting point for a discussion on a land value tax? I think so.

  2. By the way, what's the deal with that tall building that is in the background of the last two pictures? Is it still there?

  3. Yup, that tall building is the Chancellor.

    I think these lots have survived so long because the owners are making mountains of cash off of them. The one between 13th and Juniper has been owned by one single guy since 1983 who pays a super-high property tax on it... whoever he is, he wouldn't keep it this long if he wasn't making stacks and stacks.

  4. Good call, just checked it out on Google Street View. I didn't recognize it at first.

    For the other point, that is exactly why we need a LVT. It prevents people from sitting on land and unused buildings because it is - RELATIVELY - cheap to do so. My neighborhood Germantown suffers from this very problem. People just sit on property because there is no incentive to do anything else but wait for their ridiculous asking price. If you're not going to do anything with the land, let someone else have a shot.

    I am not arguing against property owners' rights. I am just saying that having these empty lots and vacant buildings all over the city is utterly ridiculous.

  5. "Ignore the interdimensional gateway opening up on the left." I have one of those in my basement! I run to it anytime a Casey Anthony update comes on the telly.