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]
Insurer In 22nd and Market Building Collapse Says Coverage Void [Philly Post]
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 [...]
A screen shot from NBC 10 of the partially collapsed house in North Philly. Complaint calls had been made to L&I for years, according to residents.
As we reported, City Council hearings on the building collapse at 22nd and Market continued yesterday with a raft of testimony from former L&I personnel, including onetime commissioners Fran Burns and Bennett Levin. While Burns was asked questions about the way demolition practices were implemented during her tenure, which lasted through last summer, Levin read [...]
Photo: Bradley Maule
In Next City, Patrick Kerkstra makes Philly negative exceptionalists feel better by pointing out that while Philadelphia demolition regulations are, indeed, lax, it’s far from alone. His lede is priceless:
“In Philadelphia, a city with a rich history of municipal incompetence, there’s a natural impulse to assume the worst about city government when tragedy strikes…”
But that wouldn’t be fair, he says. In fact, Kerkstra analyzed 12 cities and found that Philadelphia’s inadequate supervision of demolition is typical of many large cities. So much so that this could, Kerkstra points out, happen anywhere.
Since the building collapse at 22nd and Market, the building trades union, represented by Pat Gillespie, have been saying that if union labor had been on the job there, rather than non-union, the collapse would not have occurred. While this is obviously a terrific PR opportunity for the unions, Philly Mag’s Simon van Zuylen-Wood says the question is, in fact, moot due to the size of the job.
The Hunting Park Hoagie City. Photo: Liz Spikol
One of the most iconic things about the Hoagie City building that collapsed last week–perhaps the only iconic thing about it–was its sign, the one that crashed down in a most dangerous fashion in the demolition video posted here. Something about the lettering and the illustrations struck us as familiar, and that’s because Hoagie City used to be a chain. (It was originally owned by Joe Carangi, father of Gia, the subject of Steve Fried’s Thing of Beauty: The Tragedy of Supermodel Gia.)