Midday Headlines: Why City-Owned Blight Is So Hard to Get Rid Of

blight The city still festers with zombie properties, many of which have the label “imminently dangerous.” But we already know this, know the age-old adage of the sneaky slumlord skipping town to avoid fines or worse. But what of city-owned blight that endangers surrounding buildings and people? Doesn’t the government get around to fixing/demolishing its own first? Short answer, not exactly. Read more »

Former L&I Official Dominic Verdi Charged With Extortion By Feds

The writing has been on the wall for a long, long time for former L&I Deputy Commissioner Dominic Verdi, who resigned way back in February 2011 amid an FBI investigation into his activities. That multi-year investigation has now resulted in charges, with United States Attorney Zane David Memeger announcing on Tuesday that Verdi has been charged with extortion. Read more »

PHOTOS: Shirt Corner Collapse Part of a Controlled Demolition

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[This post was updated at 5:30 p.m. to reflect new information from a 4 p.m. L&I press conference]

The aftermath of the collapse at the Shirt Corner at Third and Market Streets this afternoon was ugly, but, according to the demolition team, it went mostly according to plan.

“It was a demolition job and the side wall spilled out onto the street, ” said Mark Christof, a superintendent with Constructure Management Inc. “The building is so close to the street that even the bricks flying out there could’ve hurt somebody. But they positioned people all the way around the whole perimeter to make sure everybody was out of the way before it happened.”

The collapse occurred as the demolition crew attempted to remove the top two floors of 257 Market Street. As a piece of machinery pulled on the building, a portion of the structure buckled and fell onto 259 Market Street, which crumbled from the weight of the debris.

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Midday Headlines: City Takes Scientology to Blight Court

PMCThe Daily News’ Jason Nark reports today that L&I is taking the Church of Scientology to Blight Court for allowing the building it purchased at 1314 Chestnut to sit vacant for more than six years without the installation of so much as even one E-meter.

Rebecca Swanson, a spokeswoman for L&I, said the Church of Scientology has obtained no permits for construction on the property and has been in violation of the city’s “doors-and-windows” ordinance since January for having “multiple boarded windows.”

As a result of the outstanding violation, Swanson said, the city is sending Scientology to Blight Court, a municipal-court hearing that could result in fines of up to $300 per day for each boarded opening.

Naturally, Scientology says the boarded-up window is par for the restoration course and claims it will address the issue soon. No news on when, you know, actual construction might start.

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



While driving through South Philadelphia on Monday — the same day that contractor Griffin Campbell was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter in the tragic 22nd and Market building collapse — I passed this house at 1402 Ellsworth Street. About 15 minutes later, I turned around and drove back to take these photos, because this seems downright dangerous. Read more »

Sympathy for L&I

Philadelphia Building Collapse

On October 30th, Mayor Nutter announced the creation of a blue-ribbon commission to examine the Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I) in a never-ending reaction to the June 5th building collapse at 22nd and Market Streets.

The panel is the latest in a sequence of investigation and rage after the disaster, which includes voluminous op-eds in the dailies and a formal investigation by the City Controller’s office. This chorus can lead one to believe the catastrophe was singular. In scope, it was; the collapse killed six people and was one of the largest structural disasters in recent municipal memory.

But Market Street was the Sandy Hook of building collapses. Buildings were falling before, and they have they fallen since.

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Morning Headlines: L&I Has Heard Rumors of Vacant Properties

center city philadelphia

Image by Duncan Pearson via Philadelphia Real Estate Blog

Sometimes it’s endearing when very smart people have gaps in basic knowledge. Let’s say, for instance, that a MacArthur “Genius” Grant recipient still has a VHS player and doesn’t know how to program it to tape a show, let alone how to replace it with a DVD player. That’s eccentric. It’s even kind of cute.

In Philadelphia, this kind of knowledge gap is de rigueur for smart people in city government. Putting aside the number of middling intellects who work in City Hall, there are plenty of folks who are really bright. Yet sometimes they say things that indicate a lack of familiarity with the city that suggests they still have “Save Billy Penn” buttons pinned to their canvas tote bags.

To wit:

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Building Collapses in West Philly

West Philly Building Collapse

A home in the Cedar Park section of West Philadelphia collapsed Monday night. A neighbor, who said he’d  called 911 about the property, explained that the home had been in the process of a controlled demolition that was being conducted by the Department of Licenses and Inspections.

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