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Illegal Corner Home Could Become Legal

Civic association approves plan for 3918 Terrace St.

Andrew Bantly knew the bargain wasn't ideal, but it made sense for the civic association to support the property, which had been illegally rented for years.

"We could approve it, or we could continue to live with squatters. We could continue with no owners. We can continue to have a dilapidated property that could be a fire hazard," he said.

In 16-3 vote, the Wissahickon Neighbors Civic Association agreed and supported the bid for 3918 Terrace St. to be legally considered a multi-family home.

Chris Topolewski of West Capital Management told Bantly the group wanted to purchase the corner property at Terrace and Seville Streets. However, they will only buy it if it can lease four apartments.

Currently zoned as a single-family home, the building was converted to five apartments years ago. In 1996, the owners began the process of legally zoning it but the final permitting never took places.

Since, the owners vacated (it's believed a bank owns it now), and recently the building began to fade. Squatters currently reside there, and a tree on the property causes concerns for a neighbor, Joshua Cohen, of Councilman Jones Office, said.

West Capital Management  owns 3920 and 3922 Terrace St. and wants to bring the building up to code. Additionally, Bantly said all three properties would begin storing trash in the back, if the deal goes through.

Some residents felt it wrong to approve something that broke the law for so long. Others thought the trash problem (which West Capital Management has been fined for) was also a strike against.

Ultimately, the civic association decided to avoid a fight and approved the move.

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