BREAKING NEWS: The blighted houses at 4817 and 4815 Greene Street at the corner of W Rockland will be torn down effective immediately!

One orange shirt. Two orange shirts. A white shirt. Jeans. Quite a few folks. People that aren’t our neighbors. A few pickup trucks and cars. There’s a crowd growing in our vacant lot on the corner of Greene and W Rockland Street. Some have surveying equipment. Down to the lot. Down to the lot. We have to get down to the lot. Pause while we hold our collective breath. The decree is in. The Mayor of Philadelphia wasn’t kidding when he said, “We are going to help your block.” The blighted houses at 4817 and 4815 Greene Street will be torn down effective immediately! The work is scheduled to start tomorrow afternoon on Friday, June 2, 2011. Yes, the Nutter administration gets it in on weekends!

For years now, these two abandoned houses have towered over our Germantown neighborhood, looking down on passersby with shattered windows and gaping holes. Overtime, the three-story properties became the site of illegal dumping, drug use and vagrant activity and also a lovely home for a growing population of neighborhood raccoons.

A photo taken of the blighted properties during our Philly Spring Cleanup efforts in 2009.

These houses have long plagued our community. Their history dates back many, many years. The properties were destroyed by a raging fire over 20 years ago (we think). The third house, now the vacant corner lot W Rockland Street residents have been working to maintain, was annihilated by flames and leveled long ago. The exact date of the fire is unknown. It’s impact, incorrigible.  The original property owners of all three houses, long gone.

City staff surveying the blighted properties on Greene St at the corner of W Rockland on June 2, 2011

It’s believed that ownership transferred at some point. The 4815 property is listed as being owned by the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) in Philadelphia Revenue Department records. Still, the buildings stood. Year after year. Untouched, rotting figures in our urban landscape. A daily reminder of the urban decay that manifests in neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia.
Neighbors have been persistent. Over the years, we have called the city and Licences & Inspection to get these homes at the very least boarded up, at best demolished. We made some progress in the last year with L&I and the Managing Director’s Office. The first floor of the houses were boarded up. Graffiti was painted over. The overgrown yards, cleared. Now what we’ve all been waiting for. The buildings are coming down.
Thank you Mayor Michael Nutter! Thank you W Rockland Street!
Please stay tuned for more information about the demolition of these properties.They say what goes up must come down. Well, what goes down, must come up. We will waste no time in working on collaborating with the community at large to transform this space!
Ainé and Emaleigh


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  • Hi Ladies,

    Congratulations on grabbing ahold of the dragon’s tail and getting the City to demolish these buildings!

    I live in Francisville and we have the same problems-vacant PHA housing (2 on my street, probably 100 in the neighborhood) and unattended, privately owned vacant houses. Can we connect? I’d love to borrow your knowledge, City Contacts, to help me in my quest to raize some of these properties in my neck of the woods.

    Also, why didn’t you disclose the owner(s) of 4817? In my opinion, they should be charged for the demolition of the house, not the national tax-payer base.



    • W Rockland Street

      Hi Gerry, Thanks for your comment! We have had a lot of success working with city services and offices like Philly311 and L&I. Both of those orgs helped us (and other neighbors who called and reported the properties) to get inspected, officially deemed unsafe or abandoned, and then put on a list to be demolished. The issue of abandoned property in Philadelphia at large however is a beast (just see this article from last week’s Inquirer). Please email us at to talk shop.

      Regarding disclosure of the property owners — it is all a matter of public record and we’ve talked about all the owners in the past. We looked up the addresses on the Philadelphia Revenue Department website. Our issue involved three properties in a row: one vacant lot and two abandoned houses. Here’s what we found noted via the PRD site:

      4819 = Vacant lot, owned by City of Philadelphia
      4817 = Abandoned house, now demolished, owned by CH OF GOD BY FAITH INTENATIONAL MIS
      4815 = Abandoned house, now demolished, owned by Philadelphia Housing Authority

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