Friday, May 17, 2013

Here's an interactive map of all the vacant and blighted properties in Ward 1 -- use it!

If you're like me, you're always on the lookout for abandoned properties -- they're ugly, unsafe, they mean those properties aren't homes for people or new businesses, and they can attract crime. For example, just think about the recent fires at 14th and Quincy and 1327 Girard -- it's a miracle the fires didn't damage neighboring properties.

The city publishes a list of all the vacant and blighted properties for the first half of fiscal year 2013 on their website. I put together this map using the list of properties and Google Fusion Tables, a free, experimental tool. You can click each property for more information. It's not the prettiest map, but here's what the symbols mean:

Big red icons: blighted and unregistered
Big yellow icons: vacant and unregistered
Big purple: in blight, being appealed
Big blue: vacant, being appealed
Small red: registered as blighted
Small yellow: registered as vacant
Small green: exempt from being classified vacant or blighted because it's for sale or due to zoning
Small blue: exempt from being classified vacant or blighted because it's under construction
Small pink: status pending, which means it was vacant last year but hasn't been determined for this fiscal year

What does this all mean? Basically, if you own a vacant property, you are supposed to register it with the city. If you don't, you face a $2,000 fine. The difference between vacant and blighted is that blighted properties are considered unsafe or unsanitary. Vacant properties are taxed at $5 per $100 of assessed value while blighted properties are taxed at $10 per $100. And I just heard from DCRA that only vacant properties can be exempt, not blighted properties.

So, what can you do with this map? First, you can see if there are buildings missing that you think should be on there. If that's the case, you can report them by calling 311 or emailing

You can also see if a building is exempt -- for example, maybe they claim to be under construction in order to avoid the fine, but actually there is no working going on.

So, get to sleuthing! Let's bust these vacant properties.


Blightwatch Bob said...

1337 Girard isn't vacant, it may not be dollhouse-pretty, but it's a fully occupied building.

Andrew W said...

In that case the owner should talk to the city!

Andrew W said...

It's also possible that since this list came out, the building was fixed up.

Anonymous said...

620 Irving is almost fully renovated and up for sale. 616 is a real problem. Building is a combination of a hoarder's hollow and a crack den.

NCHCA said...

The Bacon Funeral Home at 14th and Meridian PL has been claiming that they are moving next door into the vacant building for at least 2.5 years, if not more...yet their
"new building" is still a concrete slab with a fence around it and a "coming soon" sign on it. Sounds like they are just doing this for tax evasion. What a waste.

Anonymous said...

Are there any limits on how long a place can claim it is under construction? I see a few places on the list that show pending, but have not been touched for years.

#1HillAgent said...

Yes, there is a limit to the amount of time that a property can stay vacant with a construction permit; also, a construction permit is supposed to actually be used; gettin a permit, to avoid the tax is an abuse, and should be reported.

But, on the "Funeral Home", I believe that commercial properties have a different set of criteria than residential. Does anyone know for sure?

Anonymous said...

I would love to know the best way to find out who owns these properties and whether it's possible to contact them about selling. There are lots of prospective first-time homebuyers out there, and the market is very tight and frustrating for them. Many of them might be interested in fixer-upper/203k properties.

Neighbor said...

1302 W St. is not vacant. It has been a flop house for the last 12 years that I have lived near it.

They violate all kinds of rules and have an 8 year old stop work order sticker on the front window.

Their residents tried to steal my cable by cutting the line and running it into their window (like I wouldn't find out?)

They leave industrial garbage in the right of way.

One of their residents started a fire in a wheelbarrow in the backyard and burned tires in it. Seriously.

Andrew W said...

Neighbor: in that case I think the best thing you can do is call the police about them, and also contact DCRA.

Anonymous said...

Check out vacant view on Vimeo .com

Unknown said...

Saw your post and thought I'd expand the mapped listings to all the blighted/abandoned properties the DCRA has on their website (the PDF of listings indicates it's current as of October 2013). Here's the map.

Andrew W said...

Whoa, thanks! Can you email me?