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Blighted City Heights Property Has A New Lease On Life

A vacant building nicknamed the

Photo by Ebone Monet

Above: A vacant building nicknamed the "Sally Wong" building, on the corner of University Ave. and 41st. in City Heights, is pictured in this undated photo.

At the intersection of University Avenue and 41st Street in City Heights sits a boarded-up, two-story building known in the neighborhood as the "Sally Wong Building," named after a local lawyer who had an office there for years.

Built in 1919, the 21,000 square-foot property has been vacant for a decade and become a hazard given its proximity to Central Elementary School. But it has a shot at a new life thanks to a partnership between the City Heights Community Development Corp. and Wakeland Housing & Development Corp.

They have plans to transform it into a mixed-use project with commercial space on the ground floor and affordable housing units above. The acquisition is years in the making and includes two other nearby parcels of undeveloped land.

City Heights CDC Director of Economic & Urban Development, Erik Tilkemeier, said the organization has monitored this land for nearly 40 years.

“When they built the freeway through City Heights they condemned a bunch of property about 2,000 homes and didn't know exactly how much land they would need for interchanges and whatnot," Tilkemeier said. "So those are leftover parcels from the freeway construction.”

He added that revitalization plans for these properties fit with City Heights CDC’s mission to enhance the quality of life in the community. The plans also include a walkway to connect pedestrians to the nearby transit center.

Tilkemeier said the project is still in the planning phase and construction is likely two or three years away.

Listen to this story by Ebone Monet.


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Photo of Ebone Monet

Ebone Monet
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opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover the large community that is City Heights, which is known for its diversity. I bring curiosity and compassion to all my stories.

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