Category: News

Morning Headlines: Rowhome Explosion and Collapse Update

south philly row home explosion

Photo: Laura Kicey

For prior coverage of the South Philadelphia rowhome explosion and collapse, go here.

The latest news on the home that exploded yesterday, 428 Daly Street, and the collapse of the surrounding homes, 426 Daly and 430 Daly, is that 428 was under renovation by four permitted, licensed contractors hired by property owner SCK Investments, aka Steve D. Finney. L&I reported that three of the four had finished work on the building. The contractor for the fourth who was critically injured was working on a hot water heater in the basement at the time of the blast. The city released a statement saying the explosion was a result of natural gas. Further investigation into how the gas leaked will continue today.

The eight injured are all in stable condition.

As of last night, residents of the south side of the street were still evacuated due to a lack of power. Those on Wolf Street and on the north side of the street have been allowed to come home.

We’ll have more about SCK and Steve Finney later today. Stay tuned. Meanwhile…

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UPDATE: Breaking: South Philly Rowhomes Collapse; 8 Injured

row house collapse scene

Photo by Laura Kicey.

Three Philly rowhomes homes have collapsed–one completely, and two others in part. A contractor was working on the basement of 428 Daly Street when an explosion or collapse happened close to 11 a.m. Monday morning. He was said to be working on a hot water heater. He is now in critical condition at HUP, and [...]

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Best of Philly: Post Brothers, Michael Salove and John Fry Are “Best Philadelphians”

photo-3Philadelphia Magazine‘s Best of Philly issue is on newsstands now, and for those interested in real estate, economic development, and the city’s future, there are some real standout picks in the magazine’s “20 Best Philadelphians.”

Those who kick some serious butt in the Property world? “Retail King” Michael Salove, “Liberators” Post Brothers and “Connector” John Fry. Congrats to those three, as well as the other 17–who are best revealed on printed paper, we assure you.

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Morning Headlines: Zoning Board Says No to Ori Feibush

church of the assumption

Traces of the past on a wooden chair at the Church of the Assumption, now scheduled for demolition. Photo: Liz Spikol

Point Breeze developer Ori Feibush stirred some controversy this month when his lawyer, Wally Zimilong, sent a letter to a woman, Haley Dervinis, opposed to his latest project: four single-family homes around 20th and Annin. The letter cautioned her not to libel or slander Feibush with disparaging comments in an upcoming zoning hearing, and was, to our eyes, a fairly ridiculous cease-and-desist scare tactic. It worked–she was scared. The letter got press as a threat, and Feibush came off as a bully trying to censor her.

At the hearing, Dervinis was certainly not alone in her opposition, and now, according to Jan Ransom of the Daily News, the Zoning Board has denied Feibush’s petition to go beyond the current zoning, which is for three homes rather than four.

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Morning Headlines: 2 Questions to Ask the Homebuying Oracle, Plus Sexy Renderings

Scores Atlantic City will look like this.

Scores Atlantic City will look like this.

With the market looking up, there’s a lot of advice coming from various sectors about home buying. The New York Times’ Carl Richards, a renter, confesses to a moment of panic when he read economist Felix Salmon’s tweet quoting John Paulson: “if you rent, buy. If you own, buy a second home.”

Guess who else felt that panic? Half the people at Property and its parent company.

But as Richards points out, there’s little mystery to figuring out if you are in a good position to make the move. In fact, two of them are must-knows.

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Morning Headlines: There Isn’t Actually a Housing Bubble Yet

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Though it seems as though we’re back in a bubble–or at least moving in a spherical direction–there are plenty of factors that suggest otherwise, according to MarketWatch’s Ruth Mantell, who’s performed a thorough analysis of relevant data. Here are some considerations to keep in mind when bubbling (ahem) with enthusiasm about the market. All is not as it seems.

  • 1. Housing inventory is low, which drives sale prices up. And yet those prices are still down by about a quarter from peak prices. Homes continue to be undervalued.
  • 2.  House flipping is much more prevalent now, which indicates a “speculative” market based on a combination of high numbers of distressed properties and tight inventory. It’s not a sign of stability.
  • 3. Mortgage credit continues to fluctuate uncertainly. After what was seen by the Fed as an overreaction–tightening up too much–mortgage-credit availability was up in May and June. Still, it’s much lower than 2007.
  • 4. Despite tight inventory, construction is taking time to rebound. “Builders finally saw a light at the end of the tunnel. But as they approached the light, it turned about to be a 40-watt bulb, not a 100-watt bulb.”

For more analysis and links, read  ”Why there’s no housing bubble…yet

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Morning Headlines: 146 New East Falls Apartments By Onion Flats Comes Closer to Reality

Rendering of proposed Ridge Flats via PlanPhilly.

Rendering of proposed Ridge Flats via PlanPhilly.

The City Planning Commission gave Ridge Flats, a proposed apartment building with ground-floor retail on Ridge Avenue, its imprimatur this week–meaning it’s one step farther along the path to actual construction. It would be, according to PlanPhilly, “the largest passive house certified building in the country,” and the point would be proven by residents’ displays of their energy use, which would be turned into a collaborative art project.

Next up along the road to fruition for these one- and two-bedroom apartments: height and parking variances to be considered by the Zoning Board at an Aug. 7 meeting. If the Zoning Board approves, Onion Flats hopes to start building in early 2014.

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Morning Headlines: Housing Auction Confuses and Brings Treasured Memories

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It took some time, but the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) finally decided to sell some 196 properties the agency has owned since the 1960s and ’70s that were bearing no revenue fruit. Yesterday morning PHA held an auction, and while some people were glad to get an opportunity to bid on beloved homes, others felt unprepared.

“The toughest thing about these auctions is they won’t let people into the properties,” one developer told City Paper. But another bidder said he was able to inspect the properties, and indeed the list of homes to be auctioned was made public well before yesterday.

That’s how Laverne Simms knew to come to the auction to bid on a row home on North Etting Street in North Philadelphia. It was Simms’ family home until seven years ago, when her elderly mother moved out; she won the home for $9,000. “I can’t wait to get her back there,” Simms told the Inquirer of her mother, whose home it will be once again.

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Morning Headlines: Renters Now Moving Into Goldtex Apartments

goldtex apartments

Photo by Laura Kicey

The Philadelphia Business Journal reports that the Post Bros.’ Goldtex Apartments building on 12th and Wood in Callowhill has now officially started the move-in process for renters, despite all the conflict between the developers and the labor unions that opposed the site’s mixed-labor approach to construction. The conflict got so out of control, it became [...]

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