West Philly Gucci House Narrowly Avoids Demolition

In the early summer of 2011, someone noticed that the residents of a building on North 50th Street in the Mill Creek section of West Philadelphia had decorated their house with an excellent paint job — the trademark green-and-red stripe of Gucci, with a slightly altered version of the interlocking “G” pattern found on Gucci products. Photos of the house floated around the Internet.

Everyone had a good laugh. As Media Take Out, the first site to report on the Gucci House, said: “LOOK AT WHAT THEY DID TO THIS HOUSE…IN THE MIDDLE OF THE HOOD IN WEST PHILADELPHIA!!!” But recently, hard times have hit the house: For one, the red stripe has faded to a more pink color. And on August 9th, the city’s Licensing & Inspections department deemed the house “imminently dangerous.” It was possible it would be demolished. The Gucci House’s impending demolition started to spread across the internet, too. Read more »

L&I to City Residents: No Dumpster Pools

By now you may have seen this story of two enterprising Philadelphians at Billy Penn. For the Cedar Street Block Party last weekend, Justyn Myers and his buddy Jake Long, decided they wanted a pool. So they got a dumpster, cleaned it out, lined the bottom with plywood, covered the sides with tarps and filled it with water. The neighbors had a blast, apparently.

The block party even got permits! Well, permits for a dumpster. And, apparently, the dumpster pool was OK at first. But then L&I realized the block party filled the dumpster with water from an illegally opened fire hydrant. Uh-oh. Read more »

L&I: No Violations on Record for Collapsed Warehouse

The warehouse, before it collapsed. | Google Maps

The warehouse, before it collapsed. | Google Maps

The West Philadelphia warehouse that collapsed in high winds on Sunday had no previous record of violations on record, city officials say.

The incident happened around 5 a.m. Sunday; part of the front wall of an unused warehouse collapsed during a “high wind warning,” pulling down electric lines and damaging several nearby vehicles. A worker for a nearby auto shop was in one of the vehicles; he was treated for minor injuries. (The high winds also knocked out power to thousands of Philadelphia households during the day.) Read more »

Report: L&I Allowed Uncertified Inspectors to Conduct 600 Inspections in One Week

Image via Google Street View

L&I main office on 11th floor of Municipal Services Building | Image via Google Street View

Questionable goings-on in L&I land again? It depends on whom you ask. According to the Inquirer’s Alfred Lubrano, the Department of Licenses and Inspections allowed nine “inexperienced and uncertified inspectors” to conduct “around 600 inspections of unsafe buildings in a single week last month.” Adding to the murky affair, each of the nine newbies “then recorded their work in L&I’s database under the name of another man, an experienced inspector with the agency.”

Could this be a symptom of the department’s desperate attempt to stay on top in an ocean of bureaucraticfinancial and/or managerial issues? Maybe. But the department already has a less than stellar reputation (even City Controller Alan Butkovitz has critiqued L&I as being neglectful when it comes to inspecting unsafe buildings in a timely manner), so why this now? “This story is built on a host of unnamed speakers, who raise a host of safety and legal issues that are completely without merit,” said Commission Carlton Williams in an email to Property. He went on to explain the process:

Read more »

Morning Headlines: How Did This Illegal Demolition in Fairmount Happen?

Photo by Bradley Maule from  June 5, 2013 collapse at 22nd and Market.

Photo by Bradley Maule from June 5, 2013 collapse at 22nd and Market.

News of an illegal demolition having taken place on Poplar Street last spring has emerged, the Inquirer‘s Alfred Lubrano reports:

Little more than a year after a botched demolition triggered a Center City building collapse that killed six, a demolition company took down nearly half a block of buildings in Philadelphia’s Fairmount section without obtaining the required permits, an Inquirer investigation has found.

In addition to not having permits for the demolition of the five Fairmount buildings, Lubrano writes, Ashaw Demolition also razed “a house that had been in a family for four generations.” The owner claims in court documents that Ashaw never informed them of the demolition.

Even more bizzare, though? Lubrano reports the company is on the city’s master demolition list, “an exclusive club of companies called on when the city needs to demolish buildings.”

Read more »

Why Building Collapses Might Be More Likely in Winter

Last month’s roof collapse at Lululemon on Walnut Street is sure to have rattled most of us who remember the June 2013 building collapse that left six dead.

Fortunately, only minor injuries were reported and the yoga store has since set up a temporary base elsewhere. However, the question remains: What exactly caused our most recent (at least, according to public knowledge) collapse scare?

Billy Penn’s Anna Orso spoke to Robert Mongeluzzi, an attorney who specializes in collapse cases, who pointed to winter-weather water as the possible culprit: pointed to

L&I Warns of Fake Inspector Hitting Philly Homes

L&I is warning residents of a fake L&I inspector that has solicited at several Philadelphia homes. L&I Commissioner Carlton Williams says to ask for identification if an L&I inspector shows up at your house.

Several Philadelphians have reported a fake inspector showing up at their door. Yesterday, a fake L&I inspector flashed a badge of some kind, then received a $91 payment from a homeowner he said was necessary.

Read more »

Morning Headlines: Advisory Commission Sums Up What’s Wrong with L&I

Photo by Bradley Maule from  June 5, 2013 collapse at 22nd and Market.

Photo by Bradley Maule from June 5, 2013 collapse at 22nd and Market.

Months after the botched demolition that left six people killed in the neighboring Salvation Army store, Mayor Michael Nutter signed an executive order that created the Special Independent Advisory Commission. The group was tasked with studying the ins and outs of the Department of Licenses and Inspections and presenting recommendations for its improvement. Those findings were finally published last week.

SIAC chairman Glenn Corbett and executive director Peter Vaira spoke with Marty Moss-Cane of WHYY’s Radio Times about the commission’s data yesterday in an interview, which you can listen to here. Below, some snippets:

Read more »

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