Urban Fold

Is Philadelphia Building Collapse the City's Fault?

On Wednesday, a four-story building that was being demolished in downtown Philadelphia collapsed on top of a neighboring store, killing one person and injuring several people. According to Inga Saffron, the city bears some responsibility.

"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," says Saffron, architecture critic for The Philadelphia Inquirer. She describes the property's trail of seedy owners and the questionable demolition practices that likely led to this week's tragedy.  

"Joseph Sulvetta, an architect who works nearby, said he always wondered about the quality of the demolition work. 'It wasn't the highest skilled demolition crew,' he said. 'They took off the Forum marquee without shutting down the street. It was a couple of guys with sledge hammers.'"

"I said to myself, 'This doesn't look safe'," he said. "But I knew they had gotten a permit and I assumed L&I was on top of it."



Full Story: Owner, city ignored blighted blocks for decades

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