Edwards and Harris, were not only incompetent but crooked. Edwards was later convicted of stealing $138,000 of money earmarked for the reconstruction, and Harris $88,000. Harris was sentenced to 18 to 36 months in prison and Edwards served about seven years.
The two men, partners in Ebony Construction Co., had bid $4.9 million for the rebuilding project in June 1985. Mayor W. Wilson Goode, who had presided over the bombing of the MOVE house, had promised residents they would be back in rebuilt homes by that Christmas.
The contractors were given $202,400 to get started. The money was either squandered or stolen.
In May 1987, an investigating grand jury cited cost overruns of more than $2.5 million in the rebuilding project and blamed them on "negligence and mismanagement by certain city officials and others connected with the project."
"Their actions, or lack thereof, created a climate in which criminality flourished and egregious waste was commonplace," the grand jury wrote.
Edwards, who by that time had split with Harris, was kicked off the job in February 1986, and G&V Contractors of Norfolk, Va., a minority-owned firm, was brought in to complete the job.
So, a project that was estimated to cost about $6.5 million ballooned to about $31 million for rebuilding and related costs, according to a 2005 city controller report.
In addition, it was disclosed that Goode had turned down offers from developer Willard Rouse III and the Philadelphia Building Trades Council to do the job at cost, and also ignored an offer by the Trane Co. to provide 61 furnaces at a savings of $84,000.
Goode wanted a minority contractor and he went to unusual lengths to keep Edwards, who is black, on the job despite the contractor's long history of incompetence.
Amid all these machinations, the residents were left puzzled by what had gone wrong.
"Why didn't somebody notice that the houses were being rebuilt with so many structural and electrical defects that many became unlivable?" residents wanted to know.
"They burn us out and then they build us these replacement homes," Gerald Renfrow, an Osage Avenue resident and a roofing contractor, told the Inquirer in 2005.
"How can a contractor build homes so incorrectly without someone knowing it? If these things were built so incorrectly, why were they approved?"
Repairs were made but many of the problems proved beyond fixing.
When Mayor John Street took office in 2000, he decided to waste no more money fixing up the properties. He vowed to raze the burned-out blocks and compensate the homeowners with cash. Many homeowners took the city's offer of $150,000 per house, but others decided to stay and fight in the courts.
As a result, the city has paid 16 plaintiffs and their lawyers a total of more than $3.5 million over the past two years.
"By convincing so many residents to walk away, Street turned two cheery, family-filled blocks on the edge of Cobbs Creek Park into a government-funded ghost town," an Inquirer reporter wrote in 2008.
The result of all this was that 17 of the 40 houses on Osage Avenue were boarded up, with 18 other abandoned eyesores on Pine Street.
Where children once frolicked, only a couple remained, and they were not disposed to frolic.