Unable To Supplant Owner, L&I Maintains Historic Germantown Home


Photo: Neema Roshania, for NewsWorks

Photo: Neema Roshania, for NewsWorks

  • The historic house of the Cope merchant family at 5357 Knox Street has been cleaned and sealed for the eleventh time, says NewsWorks and Plan Philly. Besides the aesthetics, problems have abounded for years (neighbor Julie Baranauskas has dealt with water leakage and mold issues for a decade now) and attempts to purchase and flip the house have been rebuffed. With the structure judged as being “unsafe but not imminently dangerous” and all property taxes up to date, there’s little for L&I to do than stabilize, commiserate with the rightfully upset neighbors, and wait. “L&I does abatement work around public safety hazards,” says communications and policy officer Rebecca Corcoran Swanson, “but we’re not keeping the man’s property for him. We don’t fix up old houses.”
  • At a heavily attended hearing yesterday, Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez‘s land bank bill has already been approved by the Committee on Public Property and Public Works, reports Plan Philly. Key provisions were amended to the bill by Council President Darrell Clarke, such as the need for any transfer of property to be approved by the Vacant Property Review Committee (“a group comprised of the heads of many city agencies”) in addition to City Council. In fact, Clarke would prefer for the VRPC having more control over the process, by requiring its approval to acquire any plot. “The Land Bank could become the assignee of tax liens, could request that a tax-delinquent property be put up for upset sale or judicial sale, and would get dibs on deciding whether to pursue a property being sent to sheriff sale. It would be instructed to ‘maintain a preference’ for keeping owner-occupants in their homes.”
About the author

Stephen Currall recently received his BA in history from Arcadia University. Before beginning doctoral studies, he is pursuing his interest in local history, specifically just how Philadelphians engage their vibrant past. Besides skimming through 18th century letters, Steve is also interested in music and travel.

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