Philadelphia has many old buildings that have outlived their original use and now stand vacant. One of the most well-known of these structures is the Old Germantown YWCA. The building has stood vacant for over a decade, but a recent decision of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority may restore life to the building as a mixture of residential and commercial real estate.
The Germantown Y was long a gathering place for families, and it was one of the first YWCAs in the country to be integrated. After its prior owner Germantown Settlement went bankrupt, the Redevelopment Authority foreclosed on the building in 2009. The Authority then began to look for entities that might be able to convert the building into viable commercial and residential uses. An initial attempt failed when the council member representing Germantown vetoed the sale because it comprised only low-income apartments.
The Redevelopment Authority recently announced that it was entering into an agreement to sell the structure to KBK Enterprises. KBK Enterprises is a minority-owned firm with experience in handling large redevelopment projects. KBK has formed a partnership with a local developer and two nonprofit housing organizations. The local developer owns the structure next to the abandoned Y, and he hopes to use a portion of this parcel for the new development. Current plans call for a 50-unit mixture of market-rate and affordable apartments plus commercial uses. The project still needs city council approval and may face other compliance issues, but favorable action on the proposal is expected. The developer is hoping to break ground within six months official approval, with completion scheduled for the summer of 2019.
The number of old buildings in Philadelphia offer many opportunities for creative redevelopment, but most such projects entail many legal hurdles from negotiating the terms of the sale to obtaining necessary zoning permits from the city. The services of an experienced real estate attorney can often speed up the process and eliminate unwelcome delays in the purchase and approval process.
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, “New owner selected for old Germantown Y,” Claudia Vargas, Nov. 11, 2016