L&I moves to demolish North Philly property

Neighbors fear that a vacant building at Susquehanna Avenue and Camac Street may collapse before Licenses and Inspections can tear it down. Locals say bricks have been falling from the sagging property recently. (David Gambacorta / Daily News Staff)
Neighbors fear that a vacant building at Susquehanna Avenue and Camac Street may collapse before Licenses and Inspections can tear it down. Locals say bricks have been falling from the sagging property recently. (David Gambacorta / Daily News Staff)
Posted: March 24, 2014

GREGORY KELLY eyeballed the crooked lip that hung sideways from the top of the hollowed, clay-colored skeleton of 1413 W. Susquehanna Ave., and had one thought: That damn thing is going to kill somebody.

Kelly said he called Licenses and Inspections yesterday to report the building, which has been owned since 2003 by the city's Redevelopment Authority.

"The person I spoke to said I should just call the Fire Department," said Kelly, 55. "I was like, 'Are you serious? The building's going to collapse!' "

The property sits a block or so from the heavily trafficked Susquehanna-Dauphin stop on SEPTA's Broad Street Line, and is around the corner from a Temple University dorm.

Kelly said he didn't call the Fire Department because he figured he would get the brush off there, too. So he called the Daily News instead. A reporter visited the site and emailed photos of the building, clearly missing most of its roof, to L&I, prompting Commissioner Carlton Williams to call the paper last night to say he'd sent an inspector to the property to fence off the sidewalk after viewing the photos.

He said the building will now be demolished tomorrow, ahead of schedule.

"We're chasing buildings like this all around the city," he said. "We certainly appreciate the extra eyes."

Orange violation forms clung to the property, showing that L&I had visited Feb. 6, and noted the building had loose or missing bricks and a partial collapse of its roof and at least one floor. Another form showed the agency returned March 15 and required that the property be demolished.

A pair of barricades - one bearing a handwritten note reading, "Danger! Falling bricks." - were pressed against the building.

Mohammed Haque, 56, who runs Star Perfumes in an adjacent property, said he saw bricks tumble from the top of the building about a month ago.

Kelly said he often walks past the building to visit his mom, who lives nearby, and was alarmed when he saw it earlier this week.

"I work in construction . . . and it was clear to me that it was ready to come down," he said. "The odds are that something would've happened when somebody was walking past."


On Twitter: @dgambacorta

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