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.”

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Alan Butkovitz on L&I: “No Excuse for Putting Lives at Risk”

Photo Credit: Curtis Blessing

Photo Credit: Curtis Blessing

City Controller Alan Butkovitz has released another report critical of Philadelphia’s Licenses & Inspections department.

The review, “Vacant Properties Creating Neighborhood Nuisances,” (below) says L&I is failing to hold the owners of vacant, dangerous buildings accountable and keeping inaccurate, outdated records.

“There is no excuse for putting lives at risk due to deteriorating and collapsing buildings,” said Butkovitz today at a press conference announcing his findings. “The city cannot wait until another tragic incident happens to stimulate action.” 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

Today’s City Reads

Less of this, please.

Less of this, please.

Local: Mayor Nutter creates a board to check on post-building collapse reforms

Politicians looove appointing commissions that issue recommendations. And they often seem to equally love letting those recommendations collect dust on a bookshelf somewhere. 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:

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Panel Recommends L&I Be Split in Two

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.

The Inquirer reports this morning that a “blue-ribbon panel” is recommending that the Department of Licenses & Inspections be split into two agencies — one focused on construction, the other on the remaining licenses offered by the existing department.

The report comes a year after demolition on a neighboring building caused the deadly collapse of the Salvation Army thrift store at 22nd and Market streets.
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For Pete’s Sake Closed by Roof Collapse

for-petes-sake-raise-the-roofFor Pete’s Sake had been in the midst of an expansion recently. The bar at Front and Christian had been working to expand to a second floor. On Tuesday afternoon, the Queen Village bar suffered a partial collapse. Luckily no one was injured, but that doesn’t mean lives weren’t impacted.

This Saturday, August 22nd at 6 p.m., Old Swede’s Church is hosting a fundraiser that will help offset any employee and staff hardship during For Pete’s Sake’s closure. Admission is just a donation and there will be food and drink plus music from Sweetbrier Rose, North Lawrence Midnight Singers and Paul Fejko. 

Roof Collapses at For Pete’s Sake Pub Building [Property]
For Pete’s Sake [Official]

Morning Headlines: Roof Collapses At For Pete’s Sake Pub Building

Photo credit: Google Street View

Photo credit: Google Street View

Nobody was hurt, but that was a close one! The building that houses For Pete’s Sake Pub in Queen Village partially collapsed yesterday around 3:30pm. According to Philly.com, L&I is looking into what could have caused the roof of the three-story property (with apartments on the top two floors) to fall through.

Thus far, L&I Commissioner Carlton Williams said “a zoning permit for interior renovations of the second and third floors” was granted to Peterbuilt Construction back in June. That permit was changed a few weeks ago to include floors and stairs, and an L&I inspector paid a visit to the site just last week to go over “building and fire safety with the contractor.”

No violations have been found at the site.

L&I probes partial building collapse in Queen Village [Philly.com]

In other news…

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City Finally Dismantles Boarded Up Frankford Home

frankford home fire 2013

4712 Worth Street (center)
Photo credit: Google Street View.

It’s not even city-owned blight, which begs the question…if it had it been, how much longer would it have taken? After almost a year of neighborhood meeting complaints and 311 calls to the city, the boarded up charred remains of this Frankford home are finally being removed. And at a heavier penny than usual, too.

John Loftus of the Northeast Times reports that after 4712 Worth Street burned down last July, the city stamped it with the ever ubiquitous “imminently dangerous” label and barred its entry. (Although a neighbor says possums and raccoons still managed to settle in.)

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