Francisville in Transition

Valerie Russ, Philly, July 18, 2013

John Jackson swept the sidewalk outside his house in the late-afternoon sun. A huge American flag hung out front, where a lethargic brown-and-white beagle sat inside a fenced-off driveway and front yard filled with flowering trees and potted plants.

Jackson lives on Brown Street near 19th, in what has become the increasingly “hot” real-estate market of Francisville.

The neighborhood, for years predominantly African-American with some Latinos, has a growing number of newcomers, many of them white and Asian professionals, residents say.

Newer three-story houses tower over one-story homes built in the 1980s by the Philadelphia Housing Authority and bought by mostly black teachers, bank employees and government workers.

“We have been cheated,” said Jackson, a parochial-school administrator, who is black.

“We are paying the price for investment in this area where everybody who is buying here now will have a 10-year tax abatement, while our property taxes are being tripled.

“Our own kids will not be able to buy a home in this area, and that’s very disturbing.”

The gentrification of the 28-square-block neighborhood has made Francisville a prime example of the tensions and fears of higher property taxes that often accompany change in Philadelphia.

City Council President Darrell Clarke, whose district includes Francisville, said he wants to ensure that longtime residents aren’t forced out by higher taxes. He said a gentrification-relief law signed by Mayor Nutter on June 25 is aimed at helping them.

“Why should the people who have lived in these neighborhoods when it wasn’t fashionable have to move?” Clarke asked yesterday.

But Clarke has been a lightning rod for tensions in Francisville. Many developers say they are outraged that he has put a “hold” on the sale of all city-owned properties in the district, including at least 12 in Francisville.

Clarke said his main concern is to make sure some affordable housing remains in his district.


Francisville–bounded by Fairmount Avenue on the south, Girard on the north, Corinthian on the west and Broad Street on the east – is an old Philadelphia neighborhood.

Longtime residents say it always has been considered part of North Philly. But city Planning Commission documents began branding Francisville as part of Center City in the last couple of years.

“If you say North Philly, it has less cachet,” said a real-estate developer who asked that his name not be used. “But you can say Fairmount, Francisville and Northern Liberties. A lot of it is a psychological barrier, or cutoff points for white people.”


But some of the tensions aren’t just about paying higher taxes.

Black residents have clashed over the role of Giles, who also is black.

Giles and the FNDC board have long pushed for the economic revival of the Ridge Avenue business corridor. Giles’ rallying cry has been that “economic diversity” is necessary for the corridor to thrive.


But some black residents say they consider Giles a “traitor.” A few have accused her organization of helping “outsiders” buy property without giving longtime residents a chance to buy long-vacant lots.


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  • willbest

    1) Doesn’t increasing tax rates accompany an increased value in the land and doesn’t that benefit the people currently owning that property (aka the blacks and Hispanics)?

    2) Those McMansions are paying 2-3 times the property taxes which translates into better local services for everybody

    3) Why would anybody need help buying long vacant lots. If the lots have been long vacant then plenty of opportunity has existed for locals to purchase those lots. Also, nobody is preventing them from bidding on the property and paying the market rate. What they are asking for is to secure below market rates.

    4) Why is it important for your children to live in the same neighborhood or for even you to stay there your whole life. things change.

    • Eagle_Eyed

      Increasing tax rates doesn’t actually appreciate the value of the land; however someone who complains that his property tax rates are rising (while ignoring the increase in the value of his house) is looking for the dark cloud in a sky of silver linings.

      But notice how blacks suddenly become Misean libertarians when their taxes go up. Suddenly the concept of “fair” (relatively high) taxes for increasingly wealthy people isn’t justified.

      • The__Bobster

        I don’t see a silver lining in my taxes going up. I’m not getting better services. All I’m getting are new neighbors who come in with a pack of kids, demanding that teachers get paid more because “higher salaries = better teachers”.

        • Sloppo

          Property tax increases make land values go down. Property “value” is the what it costs you to purchase the right to rent a property from the government. Property tax is the rent. When the “rent” gets too high, it’s not worth “owning” a property. Many properties have income producing potentials lower than the taxes associated with those properties. They tend to be considered a liability to own instead of an asset.

          • willbest

            Its more complicated than that. The property taxes do buy things like police, fire, roads, schools, libraries, park districts, waste removal, sanitation, etc. Many of those amenities don’t really detract from the value of the property because most people would be part of coops that provided such things anyway.

          • Sloppo

            Public services can add back some of the value to property which is taken away by property taxes.

        • willbest

          Well they could be going up because your property is appreciating. Your taxes are the result of the estimated FMV of your land + improvements and the multiplier. If the multiplier is constant or even decreasing then your FMV is going up.

        • AutomaticSlim

          “All I’m getting are new neighbors who come in with a pack of kids,
          demanding that teachers get paid more because “higher salaries = better

          Which is why I vote a big fat NO in my school budget elections every year. Unfortunately, I lose every year because less than 10% of eligible voters come out for these elections, and most of them are the libs whipped up by the teachers unions.

          It is amazing that people do not realize this is actually one area of their taxes they have a bit of control over, and yet they refuse to exercise it.

          • Webspin

            “School elections” are as corrupt as they can be. They’re typically held at times that most of the electorate is even unaware they are happening. Those that benefit from pro-teacher/firefighter/police funding policies get the candidate they can push around the most and that is why “our” public servants make 4 times as much money as the electorate they supposedly work for.

      • willbest

        you are right, I mistyped. Increase the RATE just means higher taxes. Increasing property taxes (in raw dollars) is a different animal though.

    • I believe many of these vacant lots were created when the Neighborhood Transformation Initiative demolished the shells of blighted, abandoned buildings.

  • Spartacus

    “Why should the people who have lived in these neighborhoods when it wasn’t fashionable have to move?” Clarke asked yesterday. ”


    To make them “fashionable” again, those people that made it “unfashionable” in the first have to leave. Not hard to get, is it ?

  • [Guest]

    What it comes down to is that to deal with black people is to consume poison. The more dealing with them you have to do, the greater the dose. It sickens in small doses and kills in larger doses.

  • 1proactive2

    Only blacks would complain about their neighborhoods being cleaned up with increased home value. Blacks truly are, as a group, a primitive race.

    • Nick Gherz

      Clean living conditions are an embarrassing contrast to the filth that blacks somehow find themselves in.

    • sbuffalonative

      Go to google and search: PBS “Flag Wars”.

      It’s a documentary about gays moving into a black neighborhood and renovating dilapidated properties.

  • Sick of it

    So…raising taxes is ok unless it specifically affects black people? Got it.

    • dukem1

      Really…Someone should have asked that guy where does he think those taxes go?

      To what end?

  • borogirl54

    I guess these people are upset that their property taxes went up because of the new homes.

  • Newer three-story houses tower over one-story homes built in the 1980s by the Philadelphia Housing Authority and bought by mostly black teachers, bank employees and government workers.

    “If they go with the $335,000 figure, my taxes will jump to $4,000, [from $800 last year],” said Lee.

    I am again confused. Why can’t black teachers, bank employees and government workers afford their $4000 property taxes?

    “We have been cheated,” said Jackson, a parochial-school administrator, who is black.

    No, it sound more like all of them have been cheating all other tax payers for years.

    • I would like to add that only a black would say they have been cheated when the value of the land their $24,000 shack sits on hit the $250,000 lottery..

      Lordy me, BP increased their dividend, I am going to have to pay more taxes …. SMH.

    • “Why can’t black teachers, bank employees and government workers afford their $4000 property taxes?”

      Because that would come out of the money they currently spend on “necessities” like hair extensions, Italian suits, Lincoln Navigators and restaurant meals. None of these folks has any intention of actually living as if they were middle-class.

  • White Mom in WDC

    Having been a sucker and having bought into the gentrification hype of Philly I can say with confidence that Philly will be the big town that almost became a classy place. Emphasis on ‘almost’. It just won’t get there though because it is comprised of an angry black population that just won’t get it together. Oh well.

  • Stan D Mute

    Of course they’re upset. Why would they not be?

    The VAST majority of whites simply have no conception of just how stupid Africans are. I recall one time overhearing a “smart” African telling his friends, who looked up to him and admired him as the “smart” one of the group, how all the world’s oceans drained into the rivers and would someday run dry and become desert. Somehow he explained that was the fault of whitey, but then to the African EVERYTHING is the fault of whitey. Think about just how dumb an IQ of 85 really is and reflect that this is the *average* IQ of the African in the USA (in Africa it’s only 70).

    Africans go to work in the same building where whitey goes to invent new semiconductor technology. The African was hired for “diversity” and sits in his cubicle filing TPS reports all day then goes home furious that whitey makes enough to drive a BMW and live in a gated community while the African only drives a cadillac (and he’s late on his payments). It surely must be racism at fault. Now the African sees whitey building nice homes in his derelict but suddenly transitional neighborhood. Surely only racism could be blamed for the fact that the African doesn’t also have a nice big new home.

    You see, they just don’t comprehend what it is that whitey does to create his environment. The African understands he can get rich by (a) being a pro athlete, (b) being a rap star, or (c) winning the lottery. Beyond that, it’s just white man juju and this infuriates the African who has an ego the size of the elephants on the savanna back home. How dare racist whitey not share his juju!!! The African leaders and white liberals play in this space by telling him that whitey stole the juju from the African many years ago. Whitey’s wealth is the result of slave labor as if farm equipment was a source of wealth rather than an operational expense.

  • Oldcorporal

    The Francisville residents seem to have forgotten, or don’t care about, the many thousands of White residents in many big-city neighborhoods who were forced to move away, not because they necessarily wanted to, but because the increasing number of blacks moving in had made the neighborhoods unsafe for the White people and their children, and was dragging their property values down.

    And by the way, those two anecdotes about the rude White man assuming that the blacks were going to an AA meeting; and about the White men trying to run black children out of a gym so they could play ball and (allegedly) drink beer, were probably made up by the blacks interviewed by the reporter. And she obviously believed every word of it.

  • Lop_Eared_Galoot

    The problem is that Whites are cheap. With our population decreasing almost geometrically due to the combined effects of aging and low/delayed fertility, we have a major problem of social fragmentation ongoing as not only are our population dominance of decent communities fading but so too are our jobs and social access to improvement through major increases in salary as position.
    This problem will only increase as Africanization/Mestoization of America becomes the norm.
    What results is a ‘buy cheap, build it up, cash in, move on’ understanding of the one way remaining to improve our existence until we can ‘get out’ of the urban landscape altogether and escape to a mythical white Sanctuary in the exurbs.
    What nobody is looking at is how this plays right into the libtards social agenda hands for forcibly creating a ‘mixed ethnicity’ environment.
    First because whites will never raise up the property values enough to dispossess all the blacks (there aren’t enough of us left) and second because, even were that to happen, the Voucher Program would ensure that Other Populations would merely tailchase us back in and depress the values (beneath resale) all over again. Variations on this include diddling with the tax codes for the area. And creating boom-bust economic spikes which further imperil as impoverish whites.
    Either way, now you’re stuck living in the multicult because white conversion never really happened and nobody who isn’t white, moving to an all white neighborhood is going to pay you what you need to get out of there.
    And so your kids grow up -surrounded- by otherness and suddenly you have no more white babies from white families but a horde of brown-ish admixtures with plummeting IQs, social mores and general malaise as a social welfare culture suffering severe identity as frustrated potential issues.
    America then falls on it’s face as a non productive landscape whose #1 global consumer position as resource exploitation and ‘wealth class’ overproduction falls with it. And the socialists have solved the inequity (of intelligence) problem on the way to World Rule.
    Think farther than your wallets people. Or you will be led by them, to disaster.

  • JackKrak

    Stay out of their neighborhoods – it’s neglect.
    Move into their neighborhoods – it’s driving them out.
    Make up your minds.

    • There’s another dichotomy here as well. When whites are forced to leave neighborhoods after blacks overrun them, they normally lose money when they sell their homes, because property values have declined. When blacks sell their homes in “gentrifying” neighborhoods because whites have improved conditions, they make nice profits, because property values have gone back up.

      In other words, the whiners in this Francisville story who say they’re uncomfortable paying higher property taxes (because real-estate values have improved) want us to ignore the fact that if they do sell and move, they’re all going to make a nice pile of money.

      • Michelle

        Its funny they’re minds arent smart enough to realize that very true fact.. All their black brain can process is ‘Tax go up,dats bad’.. I wish the interviewer would have made that point to them, I’d like to see what they’d have to say then.. Or i should say,what they’d have to complain about then.

  • odious liberal

    Shut up am pay your fair share as the barackster commands.

  • Look_A_Squirrel

    I come from a long-time Phila family that was forced out of our neighborhood when violent blacks moved in with block-busting money from “civil rights” groups. We had professional blacks who lived there for years but that wasn’t diverse enough.

    The knifings, break-ins and violence forced all working class white families and black families out and made West Phila a dangerous and filthy place.

    Turn about is fair play. Why weren’t there bleeding heart stories about all the law abiding families whose property values were destroyed by these marauding parasites?

    • WR_the_realist

      There were no sob stories about you or people like you in the newspapers because they won’t print stories about evil white racists (TM) who don’t like knifings, break-ins, and violence caused by the world’s most blameless people, blacks. But they will print sob stories about black people being priced out of their neighborhoods by evil white people.

      • Michelle

        Isn’t that fact just baffling. They don’t write a Single thing about the violence and torture blacks are plaguing onto us,heck if it weren’t for sites like this I wouldn’t know about any of it.. But they’ll send a journalist right over to interview this black who’s upset about white people moving into the neighbourhood, causing his house and the neighbourhoods value to increase and over all making it a safer and nicer neighbourhood! Or the other article I just read about the idiot black kid complaining that he feels pressure to write and talk in proper English now that he’s at a mostly white school. As if its not expected by All races to speak and write properly by the time they reach College! Its beyond unbelievable they make stories like this news and leave out stories of black violent crime.. Unless they print these stories to show us how incredibly stupid black people are,if that’s the case then i get it. Cause obviously anyone reading these articles is going to think ‘wow just when i thought blacks couldn’t get any dumber’. So if its all really a ploy to make us hate them more by showing us how utterly retarded they are,then i suppose media is doing an excellent job..But if its because they think this is actually news worthy, than that i don’t understand.

  • The same blacks who monopolize public-sector jobs are now griping about paying higher taxes! Their behavior in this respect reinforces the frequent claim by conservative whites that these “jobs” are really just welfare in disguise.

  • Michelle

    I absolutely Promise you they wouldn’t be happy. Back 100 years ago I’ll bet they thought ‘well if the slaves are free,free to go anywhere and do whatever they want with their lives,thatll make them happy’… 50yrs ago I’ll bet they thought ‘We’ll let them in our restaurants,schools,church’s,let them vote,give them all the same equal rights as we have, that’ll make them happy’.. Black people still incredibly unhappy, complaining,and wanting more from us. So a few years ago we thought ‘We’ll give them a black president,now That’ll make them happy, also we’ll let them do any vicious heinous crimes against white people they want and we’ll keep it out of them media so the world doesn’t know how vicious they are, we won’t make them work and send them government,white taxed money every month to buy all the fast food and malt liquor they want.. And if that doesn’t make them happy we’ll give them more rights,give white people less rights, we’ll cater and bow to their every need, we’ll publish every complaint against whites they can think of… Wheeww, That’s gotta make them happy,right?.. Wrong, they’re no more happy or appreciative then they were 100 yrs ago as slaves,in fact im sure they’re far less happy and appreciative. The more we give them,the more they want,the less they appreciate it and the more they complain.. I can say with all certainty we could give them free housing,tax free,fully furnished and everything else you can think of and all that would do is make them want more, expect more and complain more. Why the government doesn’t see that,the more they do for them the more unhappy they get,is beyond me.