Stealing the Future: More Eminent Domain for Private Gain in Philadelphia

Last month, Philadelphia officials used eminent domain to seize 35 properties for a private development project in Kensington, a neighborhood the city first declared blighted in 1968. The project, affordable housing and retail space, depends on public subsidies: tax credits and a $1.8 million grant.

From the City Paper:

Meletios Anthanasiadis ... is livid that some seven properties in his name are all being taken from him. The properties in question are garages that he says are currently rented to tenants, who use the garages and adjacent parking lots for businesses including an auto body shop and a small antique car restoration business. "They're displacing a small business," he says. "They're costing people their jobs."

"They're stealing [the properties]. They're taking my property, my tax dollars, and giving it to someone else."

Anthanasiadis had purchased the properties over the past 12 years or so with the plan to rent them out until he could develop on them himself. He says it was his only retirement plan, after running pizza shops ever since he dropped out of school before 10th grade. He feels that he invested in the neighborhood when few others wanted to—and now someone else will reap the profits.

…Tamara and Henry Asta, who live at 1515 N. Cadwallader St., will be losing their side yard, which they bought years ago for $10,000 and have tended into a vegetable garden, with a cherry tree. They've been saving up to build a garage on part of the lot, and even though they say the city has offered them $17,000 for the land, they don't want to sell it. "I'm using the land. I don't want to sell it. We want to build a garage," Tamara says.

As in Point Breeze, another neighborhood where the city is using eminent domain, the city already owned a sizeable chunk of the project footprint—and let it sit vacant and dilapidated for years.

In 2006, Pennsylvania reformed its eminent domain laws to strengthen protections for property owners. The new rules ban taking property “in order to use it for private enterprise” but don’t take effect in Philadelphia until later this year.

Video via Mike Salvi.

H/T: @nick­_sibilla

Update: In fact, Philadelphia's exemption from eminent domain reform expired on December 31, 2012. The city acquired title to the properties on December 18th.

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  • sloopyinca||

    That Greek dude is lucky they didn't just drop a bomb from a helicopter on his properties.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    We swear he was affiliated with MOVE!

    /Police Chief

  • sloopyinca||

    "The Department is unable to comment on an open investigation."

  • Paul.||

    What's the minimum age to even remember this reference without having to google it?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    35?

  • Virginian||

    Hey I'm 23 and I got it. But that's because I'm an antigovernment extremist who reads dangerous books.

  • DEG||

    I'm 36 and I got it.

  • ||

    affordable housing and retail space

    So they're going to replace a blighted neighborhood with a slum.
    Nice.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

  • ||

    "Your mom and dad aren't at work. That's probably why they lost the house. They're probably at the track getting wasted."

  • Kyfho Myoba||

    Because Fuck You, that's why.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Anthanasiadis? That's not a Greek name, that's some sort of disease. Probably comes from some sort of python deficiency.

  • Paul.||

    What about a parthenon deficiency?

  • Pro Libertate||

    Well, most people outside of Athens and Nashville have that.

    But python deficiency is a major problem in the U.S. Most people's dietary consumption of python is virtually zero, and the body's ability to produce the natural enzymes and vitamins found in python is also close to nonexistent.

    That's why I plan to start selling python supplements.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Dammit! He gave you a virginity joke on a silver platter and you ruin it!

    Turn in your Classics card.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I will if you'll try some deep-fried python on a stick.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I'm a happily married man, I'll have you know!

  • Pro Libertate||

    No, that wasn't a euphemism. Here in Florida, we have lots and lots of pythons. As a member of the Python Sellers Association, I'm promoting the consumption of python.

    Python: The other other white meat.

  • Agammamon||

    It has to be the other, other, other white meat.

    Long pig already has the trademark to other, other.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I really think you're on to something, Pro L. Python snacks will be the next big thing, especially with programmers.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Right, another marketing angle!

  • Raston Bot||

    Marwan Kreidie, who heads the nonprofit development corporation, says the development is contingent on tax credits from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency,

    So it's one of those private-public partnerships I keep hearing about.

    As for the auto repair shop: "Is that the kind of neighbor somebody wants? A junkyard basically? That's not the kind of neighbors that make a community strong.

    Right. Making a community strong requires the upheaval of small businesses and theft of property.

  • Ska||

    Hey, that junkyard will be an abandoned, derelict junkyard in no time. Then we'll see how much nicer the neighborhood is.

  • Paul.||

    Remember when we used to just steal land from the native americans?

    I've always said, the government always corrects its injustices by committing them against everyone, instead of a select few.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Equal Correction under the law.

  • Paul.||

    It's all about closing the gaps.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I wouldn't mind living next to Fred Sanford and all his wacky hi-jinx!

  • Virginian||

    I really don't understand why more of these people don't suffer unfortunate accidents. If someone used their crony bullshit "redevelopment" scheme to take away my business and property I'd do something regrettable to them.

  • Flemur||

    "City Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez ... sponsored the legislation supporting the proposal..."

    City Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez is fat and ugly.

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