Category: News

Seriously? Man Operating Vehicle During Building Collapse Is on Record As Bad Vehicle Operator

excavator photo

Sean Benschop was the man operating the excavator–a giant vehicle of far greater complication than an automobile–when the building collapsed at 22nd and Market. Given its complex, pseudo-vehicular nature, an excavator may be best operated by a person who has good relationships with vehicles in general (think: Fred Flintstone’s versatility).

Benschop, who used the alias Kary Roberts, has had 16 vehicle-related convictions since 2006. Now, it’s not as though anyone in this city venerates Traffic Court proceedings, but few of us, with alias or without, have 16 Traffic Court convictions. Benschop drove without a license. He drove without insurance. He operated unregistered vehicles. Was the safety of others in relation to giant, dangerous vehicles a big concern for Benschop? Let’s hazard a guess. Let’s guess no.

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Building Collapse Tentacles: Woody’s New Bar, Rosewood, Shut Down By L&I

stop work order rosewoodThe popular Gayborhood bar Woody’s recently expanded to include Rosewood, its upscale extension. Turns out, Griffin-Campbell Construction–the demolition contractor for the collapsed building at 22nd and Market– was the company in charge of the new bar’s “major alterations.”

Last night at 10 p.m., Rosewood was issued a Stop Work order saying all construction must cease at the site. Probably a good idea given that Griffin-Campbell’s most recent job has resulted in six deaths.

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Building Collapse News: Demo Contractors Are Licensed Without Training or Exams

Griffin-Campbell Construction, the contractor for 2140 Market Street, was listed on the demolition permit that was granted to the project’s expeditor, L&I spokesperson Maura Kennedy told us today. That was echoed by L&I Commissioner Carlton Williams, who told the press that the proper permits were pulled and that Griffin-Campbell–hired by STB Investments, aka Richard Basciano, who owned the building–was licensed as a contractor.

Griffin-Campbell is indeed listed on L&I’s website under Licensed Contractors, but what does that mean? Kennedy says it means they’ve gone through the necessary steps for licensure, including obtaining appropriate insurance. But unlike some of the other specialized licenses, contractors don’t need to take an exam or have specialized training–to put it lightly. In fact, pretty much anyone you’re sitting next to, looking at, thinking about or hating on right now could be a demolition contractor.

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Building Collapse: Owner Is Richard “Porn King” Basciano, a Sam Rappaport Alum [UPDATE]

building collapse

Photo by Sandy Smith for Philadelphia Real Estate blog

Today the four-story building once known as Hoagie City at 2136 Market Street collapsed and took much of the Salvation Army Thrift Store down with it, trapping people in the rubble, sending several to the hospital and, according to the latest reports, resulting in one fatality.

The owner of the building was Baltimore native Richard Basciano, associate, friend and one-time estate executor for notorious blight meister and slumlord Sam Rappaport. If one is truly judged by the company he keeps, Basciano would already be held in low esteem, but he shoulders another burden: a reputation as the porn king of Times Square–this was back in the ’70s and ’80s, when that was quite an achievement. His friends and business associates at that time had criminal ties and mob ties; one of them, in fact, was assassinated by John Gotti.

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Breaking: Rescue Crews Working Feverishly at 22nd and Market

CNN, MSNBC, and FoxNews are all providing live coverage. News helicopters have been asked to stay away from the scene, to avoid unnecessary vibrations. Twelve people have been taken to local hospitals. No major injuries, so far. Update 2:29 PM NBC10 Reports One Dead, One Person Still Trapped

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Philly Officials Will Not Crack Down on Airbnb Rental Hosts

airbnb rental

Here's an Airbnb rental advertised for the Golf Open at $850 per night. is a hot, Silicon Valley-based company that’s enjoyed phenomenal growth with a very simple business model: It acts as a market maker for short-term vacation rentals. The company has been in the news lately because an administrative law judge in New York City smacked an Airbnb host, as they’re called, with a $2,400 fine for allegedly running an “illegal hotel.”

Nigel Warren used the Airbnb website as his promotional tool and logistical facilitator to rent out one of the two bedrooms in his East Village apartment. The rental was for three nights at $100 per night, and his roommate was there for all three nights.

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