It has been four months since the tragic building collapse at 22nd and Market streets, where six people died and 13 more were injured. Several personal injury and wrongful death suits have been initiated in civil court, and demolition equipment operator Sean Benschop is facing a variety of charges, including involuntary manslaughter. And now architect Plato Marinakos finds himself in Philadelphia’s federal court after refusing to provide subpoenaed documents to authorities.
Last Saturday, city controller Alan Butkovitz continued something of a public siege against the beleaguered Department of Licenses and Inspections when he called 911 to complain about a hazardous building on 24th and Thompson Streets. The next day, L&I demolished the building, and by Tuesday, the incident had been reported in the Inquirer.
“The neighbors said they had been calling for weeks about this problem,” he told the paper. Maybe they had, and maybe they hadn’t. Maybe the vacant rowhome was in such a derelict condition that it would have continued a long spate of building collapses. And maybe it wasn’t.
What’s certain is that, correctly or not, L&I came out of the incident looking indolent and unresponsive, an image it has been trying to fight since the 2140 Market Street disaster on June 5. Read more »
We’ve all known they’re there, but seeing a video is something else. Under the headline “Rats living large in Rittenhouse Square,” philly.com’s Emily Babay posted a video taken on Sept. 23 that will horrify all but the staunchest rodent fans. In the film, large rats run back and forth across the grass — and when we say “large,” we mean “gigantic.” And so many of them!
This is the second time the Rats of Rittenhouse are getting bad press; Philly Mag’s Victor Fiorillo did a piece on them in May.
This can’t be good news for brokers who market the Square as an upscale locale, which, of course, it is and always will be. And never fear: Many years ago, when rats were a problem in the park, poison was employed and they all died (as did the squirrels, which was really a shame). The city will find a way to get rid of them.
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:
Mariya Plekan, buried under the rubble of the 22nd and Market collapse this past June, lost both her legs and nearly her life. Now, thanks to a decision from common pleas Judge Mark Bernstein, lawyers will be able to get her side of the story in a court-sanctioned deposition.
Judge Bernstein’s latest decision partially reverses his earlier ruling that criminal proceedings be allowed to progress while civil cases were put on the back burner. Plekan is the only witness to the collapse excused from Bernstein’s decision.
Bernstein’s judgement came after Plekan’s legal team presented him a video of her doctors at University of Pennsylvania hospital explaining that her condition is extremely serious. Her attorney, Andrew Stern, though, says Plekan is capable of communicating effectively:
“She is at risk for sudden death. She’s not out of the woods yet,” Stern said. “It’ll be several months before that happens.”
Although Plekan is severely disabled, Stern said, “her brain is normal and her understanding of things is good.”
Bernstein ruled that Plekan may be deposed starting immediately. [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.
It’s been nearly three months since the Salvation Army building collapse at 22nd and Market streets led to the death of six people and the injury of many more. The injured victims have been lining up in court, with some plaintiffs filing personal injury suits within days of the collapse. And on Tuesday, the first wrongful death suit was filed in the case. (See the full complaint below.)
24-year-old Mary Lea Simpson (right) was shopping in the Salvation Army thrift store on the morning of June 5th when the building collapsed. According to the suit, filed by Simpson’s brother and estate executor, Simpson was trapped in the rubble and asphyxiated.
The suit names the following parties: various Salvation Army entities and employees; developer Richard Basciano and some of his related companies and employees; demolition contractor Griffin Campbell; demolition equipment operator Sean Benschop, who is in jail in lieu of $1.55 million bail; and architect and expediter Plato Marinakos.
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]
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.)