Blighted City Heights Property Has A New Lease On Life
Monday, November 11, 2019
Photo by Ebone Monet
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.
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