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.
Insurer In 22nd and Market Building Collapse Says Coverage Void [Philly Post]
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 [...]
3737 Market Street rendering via Philadelphia Real Estate Blog.
In her most recent Changing Skyline column, Inga Saffron noted fully seven apartment towers that are being built or heightened between 20th and 38th streets on Market and Chestnut. (Part of this stretch was what porn theater Forum owner Richard Basciano talked about rehabbing for a new vision of Market Street West–before one of his buildings collapsed and killed people.)
The developers, says Saffron, “now see the typical high-rise resident as a twentysomething with a good-paying job at a hospital or tech start-up.” As a result, all the apartments are rentals, and says Saffron, they look it.
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.)
Attorney Steven Wigrizer and Richard Basciano will probably be crossing paths–again.
Basciano is the owner of the building that collapsed and killed six people in the Salvation Army store at 22nd and Market. In 2000, Wigrizer won a $5.25 million settlement on behalf of Judge Berel Caeser’s family. Caeser was killed in 1997 when he was struck by a sign that fell off a building on Broad Street near Pine. The building was owned by the estate of Philadelphia’s most notorious slumlord, Sam Rappaport. Basciano was the executor of Rappaport’s estate.
Before the case was settled, the two men met face to face when Wigrizer deposed Basciano. Wigrizer recalled Basciano as being “personable, forthcoming, and calm.”
Image of Victorian courtroom via antiquemapsandprints.com
The lawyers are gathering–that much we know. But who is legally responsible for what happened? Or, perhaps better said, who will be targeted as legally responsible in various legal actions? As one local developer said, “Follow the money”–because much of what happens from here on out will be motivated by dollars and cents.
We spoke to Peg Underwood and Henry Donner of Jacoby Donner, a Philadelphia law firm that specializes in construction litigation. We also spoke with a local developer who preferred to remain anonymous. All three shared insights gleaned from past experience, which we put into a Q&A.
Will Griffin T. Campbell, owner of the construction company that performed the demolition, have to pay out?
A licensed contractor in Philadelphia is required to have an insurance policy for which he makes regular payments. He may also elect to have excess policy as well, which is added financial protection. Any successful lawsuit against Campbell would take the limit of the insurance. Beyond that, he’d be liable out of pocket and so would probably declare personal bankruptcy (something he’s done before).
Photo: Laura Kicey
After search and rescue, it’s a different kind of work.