October 18, 2013 |
WEST CHESTER - A public works crew pulling up the sidewalk in the heart of West Chester last week heard an unexpected crack. What the workers uncovered is a mystery that has since perplexed the borough. Beneath the bricks on Church Street, they found a glass manhole cover. And beneath that opaque window, they looked down on a hidden room. Another layer down, beneath a film of dirt and dust, they saw a metal chair, a few bottles, and an archway long ago closed by concrete.
June 6, 2013 |
The block of Market Street where two buildings collapsed today is not just one of the most blighted stretches remaining in Center City; it is a block where blight was ignored for decades by successive city administrations. The collection of small, decrepit commerical buildings, which includes Hoagie City and the Salvation Army Thrift Store, was once part a larger empire of blight assembled by Philadelphia's most notorious slumlord, Sam Rappaport. Even as the rest of Center City took on a polished gloss, the deteriorated Market Street buildings were among the first things people saw as they entered the city from 30th Street Station.
February 1, 2014 |
Sitting in his office in Chicago, Neil Bluhm, SugarHouse Casino's chairman, was so disturbed by the financial predictions coming from this week's hearings on a second Philadelphia casino that he flew in Wednesday evening to speak to the state Gaming Control Board himself. "I felt I had to come down and tell them that if these numbers are right, they're going to have a mess on their hands," Bluhm said after Thursday's hearing. Bluhm, a Chicago real estate investor who entered the casino industry more than 15 years ago, was referring to the projections of how much gambling revenue SugarHouse would lose if a second casino opened in Center City or South Philadelphia.
April 2, 2014 |
For anyone who hadn't heard, Lady B was shouting it over the air Monday afternoon. "I want to tell people one more time that today is the deadline, the deadline, the deadline to get your health coverage," Lady B, who is known as Wendy Clark in real life, told her listeners at Philadelphia's WRNB (100.3-FM). They heard. With triple the traffic of the previous record on Healthcare.gov, Monday had the potential to confirm wildly divergent points of view - that new glitches on the Obamacare website showcased the administration's ineptness or that the clamor for coverage proved that the president's signature initiative was on target.
February 26, 2014 |
How do you hide a 35-story building? That was the task given Stantec Architecture Inc. when commissioned to design a new residential tower on the site of the historic Lit Brothers store. The hope was that the $102 million proposed tower would hardly be visible from Market Street and certainly would not detract from the Renaissance Revival facade that remains of the Lit Brothers store. The Philadelphia Historic Commission will assess Stantec's efforts Tuesday when the plan for the proposed Mellon Independence Center Tower is reviewed by the commission's architectural committee.
November 25, 2013 |
The blocks of Market and Chestnut east of City Hall remain the gash and gaping hole in Center City's success. They are bleak pockets of squalor and neglect. Landlords in the Market East neighborhood - if you can call it a neighborhood - have sat speculatively on properties for decades, avoiding upkeep or improvement. These are the blocks that progress forgot, a costly, damaged, and troubling stretch of our city that inhibits not only tourism but investment, jobs, and revenue. Francis Strawbridge, the final chairman of Strawbridge & Clothier, told me "Market's on a down cycle.
August 21, 2013 |
A woman who lost her legs after being buried for nearly 13 hours in the Market Street building collapse filed a lawsuit Monday alleging widespread negligence in the catastrophic June 5 accident. Mariya Plekan, a 52-year-old immigrant from Ukraine, was shopping in the Salvation Army thrift shop at 22d and Market Streets when a wall being demolished in the building next door fell onto the store's roof. Plekan suffered devastating injuries "that led to the removal of her entire lower body," the suit says.
June 7, 2013 |
Richard Basciano and the late Samuel A. Rappaport were friends, business partners, and slumlords. Both rose from humble beginnings to become real estate speculators extraordinaire. They scooped up blighted properties in Philadelphia and sat on them for years while the structures crumbled, eventually selling them at huge markups to be developed by others. Now they have something else in common. Both owned buildings that killed. While the circumstances of the two fatal accidents are very different, the cases are linked by more than just the two men's complex relationship; the tragedies reveal the city's inability to enforce basic building safety.
July 15, 2013 |
In the weeks before the deadly Market Street collapse, the building's owner repeatedly warned top city officials and Salvation Army officials that the demolition could endanger the adjacent Salvation Army thrift store. But that did not prompt the city to step in. Nor did it stop the owner from rapidly demolishing the building - with devastating consequences. E-mails and letters reviewed by The Inquirer show repeated warnings about a possible collapse with potentially deadly results.
February 27, 2014 |
It seems the developers of a proposed 35-story tower for Market Street East were too successful in their attempt to keep the building unobtrusive. While the largely residential structure proposed for the site of the historic Lit Bros. store was tentatively approved Tuesday by the Philadelphia Historical Commission's architectural committee, the panel requested a redesign of the $102 million project. Committee members agreed with a critique by the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia that the design is "inappropriately bland" for a structure that would share the block with such an architectural standout as Lit Bros.