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Local

Dozens of Kensington Properties, Once Part of Scam, Auctioned Off

(Bidders and observers at an auction of Kensington properties.  Photo by Pat Loeb)

(Bidders and observers at an auction of Kensington properties. Photo by Pat Loeb)

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By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — An auction in Philadelphia today found new owners for more than 40 Kensington properties with troubled pasts.  They were part of a real estate scam that landed a previous owner in jail.

Now, the new owners say they’ll fix them up to rent them.

One winning bidder, Jamilla Gambrel, got a rowhouse on Simpson Street with the day’s high bid of $25,000.

“I was hoping I didn’t have to go that high,” she said afterward, “but I just didn’t want to take the chance of losing it.  Because that was the best one out of all the houses on the list.”

There were 86 originally up for sale, but prices fell so fast that the owner pulled half of them off the block.

Still, those that sold could help improve the area if the new owners live up to the promise of rehabbing them.

Auctioneer Jeff Hubbard says bidders were required to put aside $6,500 for repairs to take title — “improving the building, and at the same time improving the community.  And that was really the overall objective,” he added.

The houses at one time were owned by a notorious slumlord, Bob Coyle, whose empire ended with a federal indictment for fraud.

Buyers such as Jeff Nixon are betting the next chapter will be different.

“We’re counting on the Kensington and Frankford area to be something nice in fifteen to twenty years,” he said.