Northeast Times

A bid to buy the blight

As part of Star's on­go­ing series, “The Blight Fight,” the story of one Port Rich­mond man who hopes to pur­chase the va­cant former of­fice of the “slum­lord mil­lion­aire.”

Shaukat Ali, 71, with his two grand­daugh­ters, lives next door to land­lord Robert Coyle’s former of­fice, which has been de­cay­ing blight for years. SAM NE­W­HOUSE / STAR PHOTO

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.

You can reach at snewhouse@bsmphilly.com.

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