Philadelphia’s Logan Triangle – 35 Acres Of Blight

Here is a story about a large blighted area, in an urban environment, and the challenges it brings.

Philadelphia’s Logan section had a particular problem back in 1986 which you may remember.  Some of the land was not properly prepared before homes were built and the houses began sinking, making them eventually unsafe for habitation.  This area, called the Logan Triangle, is 35 acres of land that was formerly a creek bed.  The water was diverted but when the land was “filled in” it was not done properly.  The City of Philadelphia relocated 950 homeowners from this tract of land and tore down those homes.  Now a large open and unoccupied area exists that has become a trash dump.  There are rodents, stray cats, animal feces, mountains trash and crime.

What to do?

The Urban Land Institute (many in Pottstown are familiar with this organization) recommended turning the area into a large green project in 2009.  Something like a community garden, urban farm, tree farm or anything green would be the way to go.  This idea has merit and has garnered much support.

Other ideas from developers have been commercial or residential.  However, before any building starts land remediation would need to take place.  Estimates put the cost at $60 million dollars to remediate the entire 35 acre area.  Because of the poor economic conditions, the expensive land remediation project is prohibitive for developers.  One developer wants to build a supermarket, senior housing and a banquet hall and is still interested in doing so.

A big problem is the city only owns 10 percent of the lots on the property.  The city has no extra money at this time to purchase the additional properties which are owned by various government agencies, private owners and the Logan Assistance Corp.  Maintenance of this blighted former neighborhood is daunting and expensive for the city.  Basically the area is not maintained. 

For 25 years this area has been allowed to go downhill due to lack of direction, financial issues, ownership issues etc.  Those who live in this area wish the city would do SOMETHING.  Nobody wants to buy a home here.  As houses bordering this giant swatch of trash become available (owners die) they will remain empty.  The blight will spread because no one wants to live next to a crime ridden trash heap.

This story does not have a happy ending.  Presently nothing is in the works to transform this cancerous blight.  The longer this area continues to fester the further the blight spreads and the more disillusioned surrounding homeowners become.  One resident stated they get so disgusted they don’t feel like doing anything.  That statement says it all!