City to auction off nearly 200 properties in South Philly and Kensington

More than 185 properties owned by the City of Philadelphia, the Redevelopment Authority, and the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation will be sold at private auction in June.

The properties, clustered in Kensington and lower South Philly fall largely within the 1st Councilmanic District, represented by Mark Squilla. Most are small, single lots, according to Squilla.

The properties, which can be perused here, are being sold one at a time, “as is,” to the highest bidder. Buyers can purchase multiple properties, but must pay deposits on each. They also must close on the properties within three months of the auction, and a portion of the properties must be built within two years of the sale, pursuant to Redevelopment Authority regulations. The auction is being performed by the Fisher Auction Company.

Sound like a job for the Land Bank?

According to Squilla’s office, the Land Bank—which was created by Council at the end of 2013, began holding board meetings last summer, and adopted a year-one strategic plan last fall—isn’t yet operational enough to handle this auction. The sales of these properties have been in the works for about 9 months, his office said.

Paul Chrystie, communications director for the Office of Housing and Community Development, explained on Wednesday that the Land Bank is ironing out some staffing issues before it reaches full operational capacity. 

“You will recall that when the Land Bank legislation was considered, one of Council’s concerns was that the bargaining-unit staff at the landholding agencies not be negatively affected by the Land Bank,” explained Paul Chrystie, communications director for the Office of Housing and Community Development. “As that was no one’s intent, the administration agreed that the Land Bank would not move the staff needed to process properties until it had concluded labor agreements with its four bargaining units.”

Chrystie said that three of the four labor agreements have been completed, and he hopes the fourth to conclude soon. He said that Councilman Squilla was “eager” to auction the properties in question, so opted to use the existing process to do so.

“Auctions are a strategy that the Land Bank is interested in exploring,” Chrystie continued. “Accordingly, the Land Bank will monitor this auction closely with an eye toward learning how it could be an effective tool to return properties to productive reuse.”

The auction will take place on Friday, June 12, at 11 a.m., on the 3rd floor of 1234 Market Street. Read the terms and conditions for bidding on and purchasing properties here.

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