Phoenix struggles to manage its vacant city-owned lots

Teapot coffee shop
Teapot coffee shop

By Dustin Gardiner | The Republic

Alongside historic bungalows, apartments and manicured lawns that line Fifth Avenue in downtown Phoenix sits an empty dirt lot surrounded by a chain-link fence and a “No Trespassing” sign.

Jonathan Pring, owner of the Teapot coffee shop next door, fumes about the sight as he tends to the morning’s rush of customers. He says the vacant property is blight that detracts from the curb appeal of the surrounding Roosevelt Historic District.

“It’s not in keeping with the neighborhood,” Pring says, glaring at the open lot through a window. “It looks ugly. It attracts homeless people to it. People throw their trash over the fence. And it’s just a lose-lose-lose.”

Last year, Pring and his wife, Raelynn, bought and renovated a 1906 bungalow to open their business. The empty lot next door quickly became a concern.

Pring said he’s emailed the property’s owner several times, asking what they plan to do with the dirt parcel. He was told it will eventually be sold for someone to build a home. When that will happen, the owner couldn’t say.

The owner of the “eyesore” next door isn’t a deadbeat developer or out-of-state land speculator waiting for its value to increase.

It’s the city of Phoenix.

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