PlanPhilly

Former blighted Rochelle Ave. property on road to recovery

"We're doing it because we don't want to live in a slum."
—Charles Roller, vice president of WICA


The owner of 5101 Rochelle, Eric Sacks, argued that the building was never abandoned, is no longer blighted, and is under construction with his intention of renting out the apartment space and the ground-floor commercial space.

A Philadelphia court has denied a petition from the Wissahickon Interested Citizen's Association to appoint a conservator for what had been a rundown former pizza shop building in Roxborough. 

Common Pleas Court Judge Arnold L. New issued an order on Jan. 15 that found the proposed conservator, Innova Redevelopment LLC, did not meet the requirements to take over the property because it had not completed a rehabilitation project within one mile of the contested property, the former restaurant and residence at 5101 Rochelle Ave.

The order also found that WICA failed to establish that at least three of the conditions necessary to appoint a conservator for the property under the Abandoned and Blighted Property Conservatorship Act. That law, passed in 2008, allows the transfer of a neglected property to a conservator who could undertake the rehabilitation and sale of the property.

Back at work

The court decision came after a series of hearings held on Nov. 21 and Jan. 13 and 14.

The owner of 5101 Rochelle, Eric Sacks, argued that the building was never abandoned, is no longer blighted, and is under construction with his intention of renting out the apartment space and the ground-floor commercial space.

Sacks said he had stopped working on the property last year "when we thought we might lose it" because of the WICA petition. On his first day back at the site after the court issued its decision, Sack said, "I felt like I didn't have someone looking over my shoulder anymore. On the second day back, it felt like it was my building again."

A stop-work order had been issued in December by L&I, and Sacks was informed he needed electrical and general construction permits to complete rehabilitation of the building. Sacks said Sunday that he now has the necessary construction permits to continue but is still in the process of obtaining the electrical permit.

He expects the ground-floor commercial space to be rented within four months and has received interest from several possible tenants. He said the entire building would be finished within nine months.

Read full story here

 

About the author

Alan Jaffe, Contributor

Alan Jaffe has been a contributing writer for PlanPhilly since 2008, focusing on overlooked buidlings and historic preservation issues. He was a writer and editor in the newspaper industry for nearly 30 years, including eight at the Philadelphia Inquirer and nine at the South Jersey Courier-Post. He is currently the director of communications for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. He is also an antiques writer and collector and the author of “J. Chein & Co.: A Collector’s Guide to an American Toymaker.”

ajaffe@planphilly.com



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