May 8, 2015 |
Gathered outside a hulking, vacant North Philadelphia commercial building, city officials Wednesday announced a joint initiative between the Department of Licenses and Inspections and the Fire Department to inspect derelict properties. The idea is to evaluate dangerous, empty structures larger than 15,000 square feet - so-called mantraps - for the safety of firefighters and the public. Many such buildings, like the one at 3617 N. Eighth St., will be demolished. But the media event, attended by Mayor Nutter, L&I Commissioner Carlton Williams, Fire Commissioner Derrick Sawyer, and others, also appeared to serve as a forum to bolster Williams as he and his beleaguered department weather a barrage of criticism.
April 3, 2015 |
In the 22 months since a botched Center City demolition killed six people, the city's Department of Licenses and Inspections, the public's best hope for protection from future collapses, has continued to founder despite Mayor Nutter's promises to the contrary. In a dramatic move after the collapse, Nutter called for inspections of all demolition sites. But according to an audit by City Controller Alan Butkovitz nearly a year later, there was no documentation to prove inspections took place at almost half the 442 demolition sites L&I said it inspected.
March 28, 2015 |
The lone demolition company still under contract to perform some work as part of Camden's large-scale demolition project backed out of the agreement Thursday, according to the city. Burlington County-based Winzinger Inc. had been awarded the contract to raze 101 buildings as part of the city's planned demolition of almost 600 abandoned and dilapidated properties. But after numerous problems arose with contracts issued in the bidding process, city officials asked the Camden County Improvement Authority to take control of the project earlier this month.
March 16, 2015 |
Demolition began Saturday on the historic Boyd Theater, with wrecking crews tearing down the part of the L-shaped building that lines Sansom Street. "The theater was a precious resource that can't really be replaced," said harpist and composer Saul Davis, who lives across Chestnut Street from the front of the theater. Davis, who led early fights to save the theater from demolition, said he retreated to his bedroom to avoid the upsetting sounds of the building being torn down.
March 14, 2015 |
Camden's plan to rid its streets of close to 600 vacant and dilapidated buildings, which has stalled in recent months due to problems with the contracts that were awarded, moved out of the hands of city officials Thursday as the Camden County Improvement Authority took control. The authority has been assisting Camden from the beginning but will now have a lead role via a shared-services agreement. Since announcing the project last year with much fanfare, city officials have struggled to get it off the ground.
February 25, 2015 |
Saying he had serious concerns about the city's oversight of demolitions, City Controller Alan Butkovitz subpoenaed voluminous documents from the Department of Licenses and Inspections on Monday. In a letter to L&I Commissioner Carlton Williams, Butkovitz said he was launching an investigation into the department's adherence to stringent safety rules enacted after the Center City building collapse that killed six people in 2013. His action comes one day after The Inquirer reported that L&I allowed an illegal demolition at 26th and Poplar Streets last year.
February 12, 2015 |
Less than a month after Camden officials trumpeted the launch of a project to demolish nearly 600 of the city's abandoned properties, the company that signed on for most of the work has backed away from the deal. National Demolition & Recycling, the Hamilton, N.J., company that submitted winning bids for 531 of the properties slated for teardown, told the city in a letter last week that it was withdrawing, citing concerns over asbestos removal as one reason. Camden spokesman Vincent Basara said the city had discussed the asbestos issues with the company before bidding took place.
February 11, 2015 |
The Fairmount Park Welcome Center - the 1960 flying-saucer-shape building in John F. Kennedy Plaza, a favorite of mid-century design enthusiasts - leads a list of seven endangered sites issued Monday by the statewide educational and advocacy group Preservation Pennsylvania. The round building, at the southwest corner of what is known as LOVE Park, is threatened by a planned city redesign of the plaza. No design decision has been made, but the Welcome Center's precarious place in the city's future prompted the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia to name it one of four "Places to Save" last year.
January 22, 2015 |
With the crack of metal against wood, and a rumble that briefly shook the sidewalk, the ornate molding that pointed skyward from the roof of the Louis Street house disappeared Tuesday morning into the jaws of an excavator's bucket. Within an hour, most of the building was on the street in a pile of bricks and debris, soon to be hauled away. The long-vacant house at 1510 Louis in Camden's Whitman Park neighborhood, one of many that officials say have harbored crime over the years, was gone by Tuesday afternoon.
December 31, 2014 |
The terra-cotta roof and sprawling stone building are iconic in Chester, a sign on East Ninth Street of the city's prosperous past. The red wooden doors of the 120-year-old building are now warped, and its windows are boarded up. The historic Third Presbyterian Church could face the wrecking ball - unless a local preservation group is able to save it and raise enough money to restore it. To the Presbytery of Philadelphia, the building is...