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

L&I regulations and procedures were tightened after the botched Market Street what happened?

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.”

This of course comes as a serious blow to officials given that demolition regulations and procedures were tightened up following the Market Street collapse, especially since city inspectors found that Ashaw had “used at least some of the unsafe and discredited techniques that caused the collapse at 22d and Market Streets” in this particular case.

For all this, Ashaw president Michael Patterson says he thought he didn’t need permits because it was a court-ordered demolition. Interestingly, Lubrano adds that only two of the properties were included in that order. (And for the record, L&I officials say permits are still required for court-ordered demos.)

Lubrano spoke to an unnamed inspector who says the project was temporarily shut down before being allowed to resume, something which unnerved the department:

“Taking down buildings without permits sends a chill through everybody,” the inspector said. “It shows someone in the department is doing favors. And if more demolitions without permits are allowed, people will be hurt.”

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