Marquis of Debris: Vacant lots on 5th Street are home to piles of trash

Posted: March 22, 2012

SPRINGTIME is when the flowers bloom, the days become longer and winter coats are banished to the closet for a few dark, lonesome and linty months.

But in Philly, even something as sweet as springtime comes with an attitude.

'Tis the season when Philadelphians in some neighborhoods guard their faces during a gust of wind to avoid being pelted by cigarette butts, condom wrappers and whatever else is caked onto the crumbling sidewalks.

Since the weather was nice earlier this week, I took a little field trip up North 5th Street and found a trio of trashy tragedies during my jaunt from Oxford Street, in the Ludlow section of North Philly, to Allegheny - on the northern edge of Fairhill.

A gigantic vacant lot on 5th Street just south of Berks looks like a postapocalyptic landfill with piles of cement rubble intermingled with trash - and even an orphaned car bumper.

"This lot looks like it's been vacant for 20 years," said Denise Borschell, who works near the space, and walks past it almost every day. "People urinate in this lot as well, which is not very healthy."

The Marquis found that the tract in question is owned by Montgomery Lofts LLC, which is headquartered on Front Street near Thompson, according to property records. The only thing lofty about this place are the mounds of broken cement and garbage sitting like monuments to the city's indifference toward quality-of-life issues. Two phone numbers associated with Montgomery were disconnected.

A few blocks north I ran into Bea Gaines, manager of Furniture Connection, on 5th Street near Oxford.

She said that she has to shovel trash from an abandoned lot next door at least twice a week and that her store has to pay to dispose of it.

"It's getting worse by the day," she said, adding that she hopes neighbors don't think the store's employees are the ones who have been trashing the lot.

A few blocks north on 5th, just south of Allegheny Avenue, a cement barrier does little to hide a mountain of tires and other debris caked onto an overgrown slope leading toward railroad tracks.

This stretch of 5th Street is in need of some TLC, and with the Spring Clean Up next month, the Marquis thinks it's time for neighbors to work with city agencies to make this street look like the yellow brick road instead of the hot- mess highway to hell.

Contact Phillip Lucas at 215-854-5914 or If you're fed up with litter and want to talk trash, email The Marquis at or find my page on Facebook.

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