Private developer gets almost $2 million, 35 private properties thanks to eminent domain in Philadelphia

A Greek-American immigrant could soon lose seven properties to the City of Brotherly Love. Meletios Anthanasiadis, known as Mel in the neighborhood, first emigrated from Greece to the U.S. in the 1970s. When he arrived, he learned English and worked two jobs selling hot dogs and delivering pizzas. He now runs El Greco Pizza and Luncheonette and owns quite a few garages in Kensington. “I bought those properties for my retirement,” Mel said in an interview to NewsWorks.

But last fall, Mel received a letter from the city right before he went in for hernia surgery. Philadelphia was going to seize seven of his properties with eminent domain. Mel was outraged:

 “How can this happen in United States out of all places? Where the government takes your property? They just decide it like they’re gods? …This is terribly,
terribly wrong.”

Mel is not the only one whose property rights are being violated. The Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority is seizing a total of 35 privately owned properties. According to the Philadelphia City Paper, these condemnations will allow the Arab American Community Development Corporation and Conifer Realty to build a $14 million “affordable housing” project in the area. The city of Philadelphia has already committed $1.8 million in funding to this 45-unit complex.

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s notorious Kelo v. New London decision, Pennsylvania lawmakers partially reformed eminent domain, earning a B- from the Castle Coalition. But just this past November, Philadelphia condemned almost 30 properties for another private developer.

The city also suffers from civil asset forfeiture abuse and a “crack down on compassion.” No wonder IJ attorney Robert McNamara argues there’s “No Brotherly Love for Entrepreneurs: It’s Never Sunny for Philadelphia’s Small Businesses.”

— Nick Sibilla
Nick Sibilla is a writer at the Institute for Justice

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