Morning Headlines: Deteriorating Stone Wall in East Falls Costs Locals

East Falls - W. Penn and Midvale driveway screenshot

Beginning of driveway between W. Penn and Midvale, from Vaux Street corner.
Photo credit: Google Street View

Picture this: the 85-year-old retaining wall that divides your yard from the back street’s common driveway starts deteriorating. The damage extends for two blocks, and if unaddressed, will result in the collapse of your rear deck (as well as those of your neighbors). The city then does a structural report on it, which verifies its danger, and says you and other affected residents must pick up the repair bills.

That’s exactly what happened to some locals from East Falls.
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“There Are Going to Be Some Legal Issues”

hoops deli

Google Street View image of HOOPS at 42nd and Chester circa 2012.

The former HOOPS Deli & Market at 42nd and Chester had a side wall collapse yesterday morning, and is now being torn down entirely. The wall caved in due to adjacent construction activity by Shafer Properties LLC, City Paper’s Ryan Briggs reports.

Thankfully, HOOPS has been closed for a long time, so no one was eating a cheesesteak when the wall fell in. But the Shafer construction site did have an outstanding L&I violation going back at least a month.

HOOPS was owned by the University of the Sciences — presumably post-sandwich making. Briggs:

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Yet Another Rowhome in Philadelphia Collapses; Owner Had Racked Up L&I Violations

The Daily News’ William Bender is back on the house collapse beat in Tuesday’s Daily News, reporting on a house collapse at 61st Street and Glenmore Avenue in Southwest Philly. One home collapsed Sunday night, displacing five. L&I inspected the block, and deemed 16 more homes unsafe.

Fortunately, no one was hurt in the collapse. Unfortunately, it’s not going to be easy to find the owner:

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L&I Says Rowhome Collapse That Caused Injuries “Is Not a Big Deal”

strawberry mansion rowhome

A Google Street View image shows 3026 and the surrounding homes in 2011.

Around 10:40 this morning, a large chunk of an imminently dangerous building on West Diamond Street fell on top of two workers for Gama Wrecking. A witness to the events at 3026 Diamond told Action News “it was a freak accident, wrong place at the wrong time.”

It’s an unfortunate reality that demolishing imminently dangerous buildings — L&I’s current bailiwick — is itself a dangerous task, even when, as in this case, workers adhere to every safety regulation and procedure and wear all required gear.

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Morning Headlines: L&I Officials Request $2 Million From City Council

Photo credit: Julia Rowe via Flickr.

Photo credit: Julia Rowe via Flickr.

City-owned blight may be the hardest to get rid of, but in the meantime Licenses and Inspections has been making an effort where it can. Yesterday, L&I petitioned City Council for an additional $2 million to their funding.

If Council approves the request, according to the Inquirer’s Claudia Vargas, L&I believes it could “demolish 650 buildings and seal 1,400 in the fiscal year that starts July 1, and hire an additional 34 employees, including 26 building inspectors.”

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Morning Headlines: L&I and Shirt Corner Owner Had Prepared for Possible Collapse

Photo credit: Joe Coufal

Photo credit: Joe Coufal

A 40-foot wall that careened down while JPC Group workers carried out the Shirt Corner’s assigned demolition caused the site’s partial premature collapse on Thursday. At least, this is what Leo Addimando — the property’s owner — said during yesterday’s press conference.

Addimando said that although the fall of the wall wasn’t planned, he was aware of the possibility. L&I Commissioner Carlton Williams added that it was for this reason that “every safety precaution had been taken,” particularly in light of the June building collapse at 22nd and Market.

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L&I Cannot Count High Enough to Tally How Many Buildings Have Collapsed in Philadelphia

West Philly Building Collapse

Fun story in today’s Daily News from William Bender: The Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections literally has no idea how many buildings have collapsed in Philadelphia.

To make things even better worse, the Daily News has been trying to get this data for three months!

As a blue-ribbon commission investigates L&I in the wake of last year’s fatal collapse on Market Street, the beleaguered agency said this week that it cannot determine how many buildings have collapsed in recent years because the descriptions of the incidents to which its staffers respond are buried in an unsearchable database.

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Morning Headlines: Philadelphia’s War Against Blight Continues

Two days into 2014 we wondered if plans to relieve Philadelphia of abandoned properties would yield significant changes. Now, only a month later, it appears we’re getting an answer: Efforts to alleviate blight plaguing the city are already showing results.

Newsworks reports that according to Liz Hersh, executive director of the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania, home sale prices have increased by about 31%, thus relieving nearby properties from suffering the consequences of living near deteriorating buildings.

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Danger of Imminently Dangerous House Couldn’t Have Been That Imminent

ellsworth-house-back-940x540
Check out the photos of 1402 Ellsworth Street, which is the kind of house Philly residents walk by all the time and don’t even notice anymore. It’s just one of so many craptastic buildings that are about to topple over. This one was slapped with an “imminently dangerous” designation in July but court proceedings against the owner didn’t start till a few days ago. With all due respect to understaffing and human fallibility, have we learned nothing from disasters like the fire at Thomas Buck warehouse or the Salvation Army collapse? L&I doesn’t have the funding to demo a building in danger of imminent collapse within 24 hours, as City Controller Alan Butkovitz suggested, but to go months?

The building owner must feel rather invincible. After he testily confronted Philly mag’s Victor Fiorillo, who was taking photos of his “house,” he explained his lack of upkeep by saying he was “just a regular guy” who’s had neighborhood problems.

That regular guy needs to be held accountable, especially if he’s so easily found. And L&I needs to get the funding it requires to make demo projects like this one happen.

Photos: This South Philly House Looks Like It’s About To Collapse

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