City: Warehouse owners owe less than we thought

Posted: April 20, 2012

SO MAYBE they're not complete and total deadbeats, after all.

In the aftermath of the April 9 fire that destroyed the Thomas W. Buck Hosiery building and killed two firefighters, Nutter administration officials released a stream of financial information about Michael, Yechiel and Nahman Lichtenstein, the owners of the Kensington warehouse.

The Brooklyn-based relatives owned 31 properties in Philly, the administration said, and owed the city $385,665 in unpaid real-estate taxes.

They were perpetual tax cheats, it seemed. That image softened a bit Thursday as city officials explained that the Lichtensteins had paid off the debts or entered payment plans on 19 of the properties, and owed a nominal amount on four others. The city noted that the Lichtensteins haven't entered into payment plans for $5,163 that they owe on four other properties.

Revenue Department Commissioner Keith Richardson said an outside law firm that serves as cocounsel for the city on unpaid taxes is pursuing the Lichtensteins over those properties.

"The sole purpose is to get them to pay," he said. "They have been paying as agreed [on the other properties]."

The Lichtensteins had not entered into a payment plan for the Buck building, on York Street near Jasper, for which they owed $59,498 in taxes. The building was slated for sheriff sale in July.

A local grand jury is handling the investigation into the blaze that consumed the warehouse.


Contact David Gambacorta at 215-854-5994 or gambacd@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @dgambacorta.

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