This story is a part of Star’s ongoing “The Blight Fight” series.
It’s one of the most visible pieces of blight left behind by an infamous River Wards landlord – his own former office, which is now an abandoned building on Allegheny Avenue in Port Richmond.
Robert N. Coyle, Sr., a man dubbed the “slumlord millionaire,” who for years owned hundreds of shoddy row-homes in the River Wards, was sentenced to six years in prison last month for loan fraud.
Shaukat Ali, 71, who lives next door to Coyle’s former office in Port Richmond at Allegheny and Aramingo avenues, wants to buy Coyle’s abandoned office.
But he can’t, because the office is still listed in city records online as belonging to Alivest LLP, one of about 10 companies owned by Coyle, and all now defunct.
Ali doesn’t know whom to contact to ask about a sale. “If it were for sale, we would like to buy it for the family,” said Ali, who has two sons and two grand-daughters.
The family is interested in buying the office both because they need more room and because living next to an abandoned building is degrading their quality of life.
“Sometimes it’s very dirty in front, so I clean the front [yard]. There are rats, they come in my home sometimes … there’s lot of garbage in the backyard, and nobody cleans that,” Ali said. “It’s very old. Next time maybe a fire will blow up, or the water pipe. Something like that could happen. I’m scared.”
Ali said he knew Coyle, and remembered him as a friendly neighbor who always said hello, and whose employees sometimes offered to help Ali out with plumbing or other housework.
But Ali, 71, who came to Philadelphia from Pakistan in 1984, has now faced his own financial issues due to Coyle’s abandoned office.
“We’ve had a very hard time to trying to take out insurance or [get a] mortgage for my home,” Ali said. “It’s very hard to find insurance.”
Coyle pled guilty last year to charges of defrauding two banks for $10 million via blanket mortgage loans for shoddy row-homes dotted around Kensington and some of Port Richmond.
At Coyle’s sentencing for two counts of loan fraud in Philadelphia federal court, Coyle was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $6.4 million and a forfeiture money judgment of about $10 million.
However, a source familiar with the case said such forfeiture orders are limited to funds that are directly linked to Coyle’s illegal activities or properties bought with those funds.
Coyle bought the Allegheny Avenue office years before he was investigated for criminal wrongdoing. So unless it gets liquidated to pay off the forfeiture judgment, it could continue sit there empty for years to come.
The U.S Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania declined to comment on the status of Coyle’s Allegheny Avenue office.
The city Licenses & Inspections Department did not respond to a request for comment on the status of the office, or whether any property-owner responded to Streets Department violations filed on the property in March.
Coyle’s former attorneys, Kyle Culver and Jeffrey Miller, did not respond to requests for information about the office.
No one has been to the house since Coyle abandoned it in 2009 after his scams were reported in the Daily News, Ali said. After years of living next to an abandoned property, Ali said he’s almost ready to move out.
“My granddaughters are growing, I need a good area,” Ali said.