Report from Penn’s Fels Institute of Government Shows Positive Results of Urban Investment

PHILADELPHIA –- A new report from the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Institute of Government shows how public investment guided by strategic planning can produce highly successful results, even within an urban area formerly plagued by high levels of vacancy and abandonment.

“Vacant Property Reclamation Through Strategic Investment in Eastern North Philadelphia, 1998-2010“ documents the work of a nonprofit organization in implementing an investment strategy for a section of Philadelphia.  

One of Philadelphia’s leading community-development corporations, Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha has developed hundreds of well designed sales and rental housing units and a new supermarket on formerly vacant parcels within the area.  A greening program undertaken in coordination with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society has also brought well tended grass and trees to once-neglected lots.

According to Fels Insitute research, two thirds of the neighborhood’s vacant properties have been redeveloped since 1998.  Sales prices have increased eight fold within APM’s service area and the number of private sales in the area has doubled.

“APM’s experience demonstrates that a community organization that has strong leadership, capable staff and a strategic development plan can achieve great success, even within an area once regarded as unsalvageable,” John Kromer, who organized and supervised the research project in coordination with APM staff, said.  Kromer is a Fels senior consultant. 

The project was funded through a grant from the William Penn Foundation.

“Vacant Property Reclamation Through Strategic Investment in Eastern North Philadelphia, 1998–2010” is available at