Morning Headlines: Another House Collapse Challenges Suspension of Disbelief

It’s as if a virus has overtaken the city, or maybe it’s more like when someone tells you they just got a red Fiat and all of a sudden you can’t stop noticing red Fiats everywhere. Unfortunately, a red Fiat is benign (provided you like Italian automotive engineering) and building collapses are not.

Yesterday afternoon a vacant house in Mantua, on the 3600 block of Fairmount, crumbled to pieces the day demolition was scheduled to begin. The residents of the street were evacuated and assisted by the Red Cross; CBS 3 reports they are back in their homes now. Neighbors had feared 3623 Fairmount was a danger to the neighborhood, and as usual, they were right. From Fox 29:

Emergency demolition crews have been out on the 3600 block of Fairmount avenue all night. They’ve brought down the rest of this abandoned house that collapsed late this afternoon. In fact, the remaining wall that crews deemed dangerous came down by itself, almost injuring a worker.

L & I couldn’t tell me why demo work didn’t start on the house immediately. And we’ve learned the homeowner has a list of code violations dating back years.

It’s that last sentence that really rankles, particularly as this collapse comes a mere week after the partial collapse of a home on the 5700 block of Walnut Street. Let me guess: code violations? Taxes owed?

Moving right along…

• Stu Bykofsky reveals one potential reason things don’t get fixed in the city: citizens who are held responsible might be dead–in some cases, since 1996. No one passes the buck like the City of Philadelphia.
• Sandy Smith talks about “landlords who kill their own cash cows” with an example of someone who “opened a pub in a long-vacant storefront in a Philly neighborhood on the mend. The place proved popular and the proprietors were doing very well.” Then came a big rent hike–the kind that’s shutting down Pumpkin Market on South Street West.
PlanPhilly has an announcement about passive housing: “Ridge Flats, a proposed 146-unit apartment complex at 4300 Ridge Avenue in East Falls, was green lighted by the Zoning Board of Adjustment Wednesday afternoon.”

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