Philadelphia City Council is looking at the Pennsylvania conservatorship law as a way to help fight blight in the city.
The Conservatorship Act allows a nonprofit corporation, a lien holder or municipality among others to take over and rebuild a house that’s been sitting vacant for more than a year.
John Ungar of the Ogontz Avenue Revitalization Corporation says in one instance, the law saved his group more than 75 percent of the owner’s asking price for a crumbling building.
“Before this law came into effect, there really were no means to force the owner to the table,” Ungar said. “This person making unreasonable demands trying to get a windfall on the community’s back.”
Anuj Gupta of Mt. Airy USA says liens against the properties sometime make conservatorship impossible.
“To date, the Department of Licenses and Inspections has been a excellent partner in not only citing properties for code violations and working with potential conservators to discuss reducing outstanding liens to make the economics of rehabilitation work,” Gupta said. “Unfortunately other city departments are not following suit and has been difficult to generate any interest.”
City council members say they want to work with both city agencies as well as state officials to make the process easier.