Observatory Hill


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Summer 2017 Newsletter
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Business District: Conservatorship Project

Lamb of God Church and Graham Apartments Conservatorship

3930 & 3936 Perrysville Avenue

Observatory Hill Development Corporation applied for a conservatorship for the Lamb of God Lion of Judah Church building and the apartments next door and it was granted in 2019.

The Blighted and Abandoned Conservatorship Act was enacted in 2008 to deal with serious cases of property neglect.  The background section of the conservatorship manual states:  "Neglected properties destabilize residential communities; when they appear, nearby property owners start thinking about moving out. Because such properties have the potential to become centers of criminal activity, their presence makes a community less safe and increases the cost of police and fire services.  A deteriorated or vacant property is a symptom of declining or failing real estate - and when no one takes action to improve its condition or status, market conditions begin to worsen and threats to community well-being increase."

Over the years, both nearby businesses and homeowners have expressed concern over the blighted and unsafe conditions of these properties.  After the buildings became abandoned, our board felt that no one would take on a project of this size and scope and that it was not an option to watch these feature buildings with such rich history continue to deteriorate in our heavily trafficked corridor. In addition, we believe that the blight would work against our nearby revitalization efforts and would deter future investment. Over the last year, we saw vandalism, graffiti, extensive weeds and overgrowth.  The buildings have been broken into and deemed as uninhabitable.  There were two fires in the apartment buildings and reports detail the damage - including a large hole cut in the roof to vent a fire.  After considering all these factors, we moved forward with hopes of bringing these buildings back to life again.

As part of the process, evidence is presented to a judge who decides if the interested party is able to take charge of the abandoned property. Initially, there are four mandatory conditions that are required to be met - one being that the buildings have been abandoned for at least a year. We met all four of those conditions.

We then had to meet three of nine blight indicators:

  •  The building is a public nuisance
  •  The property is in need of substantial rehabilitation, and no rehabilitation activity has taken place during the previous 12 months
  • The property is unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use
  • The condition and vacancy of the building materially increase the risk of fire to the building and to adjacent properties
  • The building is subject to unauthorized entry leading to potential heath and safety hazards – the building has been sealed by the municipality
  • The building is considered as an attractive nuisance to children
  • The presence of vermin or the accumulation of debris, uncut vegetation, or the physical deterioration of the structure or grounds has created potential health and safety hazards…
  • The dilapidated appearance or the condition of the building negatively affects the economic well-being of residents and businesses near the building
  • The property is an attractive nuisance for illicit purposes

We met eight of the nine blight indicators and as a result, Judge Walko easily ruled in our favor and granted a conservatorship.  In the days ahead, we will be assessing the conditions of the structures to determine a plan of action.  Initial plans are to stabilize the buildings, address the holes in the roofs, have an engineer make an assessment and draft cost work ups.

We ask for your support in helping us with this revitalization project.  Consider us this year as our membership drive begins. We now have three multi million-dollar revitalization projects all at the same time.  Help us to pick up trash, to be additional eyes and ears on the street and to report any mischief to the authorities.  We are excited for the future of our neighborhood and we invite you to join us as we strive to make Observatory Hill an even better place to live and work.


Building updates:  We thank the Neighborhood Community Development Fund for loaning us the money for all the repairs we have been made on this building.  To date, we have spent over $200,000.  A new roof was put on the apartment section - it has numerous soft spots and rotten wood.  Leaks were repaired on the church space as well.  In addition, masons were on site for almost a month meticulously taking the crumbling balconies apart and then rebuilding them.