A handsome apartment building on E. Franklin Avenue that's been vacant for about 20 years is finally heading toward redevelopment by an area landlord with a proven track record.
Landlord Mark Orfield will buy the property from the city under a plan to sell him the gutted building at 628 Franklin for that won preliminary approval this week in a City Council committee.
If he's successful in his plans to renovate the 1904 building to create 14 market-rate apartments, Orfield will reawaken a building that hasn't had tenants since the mid-1990s and create just over $1 million in property value. It's been on the city's vacant building registration list for a dozen years, which makes it among the longest on that list.
That would generate more than $20,000 per year in taxes. To make that happen, the city is writing down the sale price to $75,000, or $178,191 less than it paid in 2013 to regain the property.
Orfield plans 11 one-bedroom apartments that will rent for $1,200 monthly, plus three smaller apartments renting for $790. His was chosen from four proposals for the stately but neglected building. His family has been in the rental business since 1939, accumulating more than 200 units, and Orfield has owned and managed 90 apartments across Franklin Avenue since 1994.
“That’s great. Someone like that should own it. That’s exactly what that property needs -- a good solid private landlord," said Jason Geschwind, who made a previous unsuccessful attempt to rehab the building.
One impediment to redevelopment has been that the building has only five parking spaces, given that it was built when most people walked or rode a streetcar. Orfield is surmounting that deficiency by making parking available at his Best Apartments at 2008 Park Av. across Franklin.
Orfield is attempting what at least two previous developers have failed at. Geschwind and Thea LLC bought it from the city in 2003, with Sabri Holdings LLC supplying some financing. Thea lost the building to Sabri, which didn't finish the rehab. The city bought back the building in 2012, and has been looking for a developer since.
The City Council is scheduled to ratify the sale at its Oct. 9 meeting.
Steve Brandt • 612-673-4438