Philadelphia City Council’s special committee to investigate the building collapse at 22nd and Market has released its findings this morning — and it ain’t pretty. The Special Investigating Committee on Demolition Practices’ report can be read cynically or pragmatically, but reading it in the former fashion might lead one to believe the city cares less about its citizens than covering its collective governmental behind. From CBS Philly:
The 70-page report from City Council’s makes clear that the city imposes higher standards on its own demolitions than those carried out by contractors on privately owned buildings. For example, contractors demolishing public buildings must submit a criminal background check and provide evidence of competency and experience.
We’ve written before about the lax requirements for becoming a demolition contractor for private jobs, but to seem them in contrast with city requirements is offensive and discouraging.
Roseline Conteh, mother of eight, was one of the people who died when the “Hoagie City” building collapsed onto the Salvation Army at 22nd and Market. Now Conteh’s family is filing the second wrongful death suit related to the tragedy, and the defendants are the same, according to philly.com:
The first wrongful death suit in the case of the building collapse at 22nd and Market makes some strong allegations against the Salvation Army, claiming the Christian organization knew the thrift store was unsafe but chose to keep it open for business anyway.
In June the Inquirer reported on a string of communication between building owner STB and the Salvation Army that showed the two groups at legal loggerheads to such a degree that nothing could be accomplished. At the time, STB warned the city that if the Salvation Army continued to delay, something bad could happen. The Salvation Army, however, maintains they were trying to obtain a promise from STB regarding safe demolition practices before things moved forward.
Getting a late start this morning, so let’s just jump right in with the latest in real estate-related news:
• Oh, Come On: Philly No. 2 for Bedbugs [Philly Post]
• 911 calls show fear, confusion after Center City building collapse [philly.com]
• City, ATF probing fire at Ukrainian church [Inquirer]
Photo by Laura Kicey
True, it’s not necessarily an intuitive pairing: a swank, highly designed Kimpton hotel and sweaty, summer bikers who do battle with Philadelphia’s inconsistent bike lane system and angry automobile drivers. But today–and today only–the hotel is offering free six-point checkups to bicycle owners, both local and of the tourist variety. The project is in conjunction with Keswick Cycle, whose employees probably know a wee bit more about derailleurs than your average concierge.
The motivation for the program is twofold: One is to promote wellness and the other is to promote the hotel’s bike loan program. (Hotel Palomar, near Rittenhouse Square, is also offering bike loans to its guests.)
Remember last summer, when every week there was news of a water main break? This is the summer of the building collapses. Thankfully, there were no injuries this time. It seems like a tangled Philly-style L&I web.
The building had been declared “Imminently Dangerous” in October 2012, according to L&I records posted by Philadelphia Speaks member themule, but that particular complaint was marked “complied” by April 2013. A different violation from March 21, 2013 is still marked “Not Complied,” and another Philadelphia Speaks member points out that the back wall of the property collapsed during Hurricane Sandy.
Whether this particular collapse will be seen as L&I’s fault, it’s certainly not terrific PR for an agency that’s had a very rough summer.
And now, let’s get this Monday started with some other headlines…
Fox 29's own screen shot
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 [...]
Insurer In 22nd and Market Building Collapse Says Coverage Void [Philly Post]
A 15-year-old survivor of the South Philadelphia home explosion that happened last week has spoken to the press, and it sounds like she’s still a little shell-shocked. “It still doesn’t seem real,” she told NBC 10. She and the rest of her family are separated right now as they determine how to start over, but it sounds as though they’ve decided row home life is not the way to go.
Photo of Ronald Wagenhoffer in better times via philadelinquency
Inquirer staff writer Julia Terruso filed a superb story this weekend offering an inside look at the state of mind of Ronald Wagenhoffer, the L&I inspector who was involved in monitoring the demolition site at 22nd and Market–the site that ultimately collapsed and killed six people. Terruso spoke at length with Wagenhoffer’s wife, Michele, who [...]