Neighborhood news in brief for the week of Oct. 9

Wid­ow of fire­fight­er who per­ished in Buck Ho­siery fire files law­suit, de­moli­tion be­gins at NoLibs' Ort­lieb's and more news in brief.

De­moli­tion of Ort­lieb’s un­der­way in NoLibs

A few weeks ago, de­moli­tion began at Ort­lieb’s Brew House in North­ern Liber­ties, re­por­ted Plan­Philly.

Loc­ated at North 3rd and Pop­lar streets, the former brew­ery, op­er­a­tion­al since the 1860s, was con­sidered a land­mark by some. It closed in 1981.

However, de­veloper Bart Blat­stein, who has owned the former brew­ery since 2000, de­term­ined that the struc­ture was too de­cayed for re­use.

Blat­stein told Plan­Philly that he is now plan­ning to build a res­id­en­tial pro­ject on the site.

Blat­stein fam­ously con­ver­ted the former Schmidt’s Brew­ery in­to the massive Piazza at Schmidt’s apart­ment com­plex, lead­ing some res­id­ents to hope that such a trans­form­a­tion might be pos­sible at this loc­a­tion.

The de­moli­tion is ex­pec­ted to be fin­ished by the end of the year. ••

$5M grant goes to wa­ter­front

The Delaware River Wa­ter­front Cor­por­a­tion (DWRC) re­ceived a $5 mil­lion grant from the Wil­li­am Penn Found­a­tion last week, which will go to­wards im­prov­ing pub­lic ac­cess to the wa­ter­front, the found­a­tion an­nounced.

The DWRC, which stew­ards the de­vel­op­ment of the Delaware River wa­ter­front between Ore­gon and Al­legheny av­en­ues, will be used in Fishtown for the de­vel­op­ment of con­nect­or streets that lead from the neigh­bor­hood to the river­front.

The con­nect­or street pro­jects, at Columbia, Shack­amax­on, and Marl­bor­ough streets, are bet­ter known as DWRC’s “Take Me To the River” pro­ject and are in­ten­ded to im­prove make these streets more ped­es­tri­an-friendly.

DWRC’s goal is to im­ple­ment the “Mas­ter Plan for the Cent­ral Delaware,” a plan that calls for de­vel­op­ing parks every half-mile along the wa­ter­front, linked by a bike and ped­es­tri­an trail, and cre­at­ing a net­work of con­nec­tions in­to sur­round­ing neigh­bor­hoods. ••

Lt. Neary’s wid­ow files law­suit

On Thursday, Sept. 26, Di­ane Neary, the wid­ow of Phil­adelphia Fire De­part­ment Lt. Robert Neary, filed a law­suit against the own­ers of the former Buck Ho­siery fact­ory in Kens­ing­ton for the fire on their prop­erty that led to the death of Neary and fire­fight­er Daniel Sweeney in April 2012.

Filed in the Phil­adelphia Court of Com­mon Pleas by at­tor­ney Thomas W. Sherid­an, the law­suit seeks un­spe­cified dam­ages from Nah­man Licht­en­stein, Ye­ch­i­al Licht­en­stein and Toby Moskovits, of Brook­lyn, New York, and their vari­ous com­pan­ies on the grounds that they caused the deaths of Sweeney and Neary by al­low­ing their prop­erty to fall in­to a state of neg­lect.

Sherid­an’s law­suit says that the Licht­en­steins and Moskovits “ac­ted with a reck­less dis­reg­ard for the cit­izens of the Kens­ing­ton neigh­bor­hood sur­round­ing the [fact­ory] as well as the fire­fight­ers in­clud­ing Lieu­ten­ant Neary who re­spon­ded to the burn­ing in­ferno.”

The law­suit claims that more than 60 people were il­leg­ally liv­ing in the Buck Ho­siery fact­ory pri­or to the April 2012 fire that killed Neary and Sweeney.

The suit states that Licht­en­steins and Moskovits should have known the build­ing was a fire haz­ard.

Rep­res­ent­at­ives of the East Kens­ing­ton Neigh­bors As­so­ci­ation and New Kens­ing­ton Com­munity De­vel­op­ment Cor­por­a­tion re­peatedly tried to warn the Licht­en­steins that the build­ing was a fire haz­ard and had con­tac­ted the Licht­en­steins’ law­yers with no res­ult, ac­cord­ing to the law­suit.

These warn­ings al­legedly con­sisted of in­form­a­tion that scrap­pers in the fact­ory to steal cop­per and oth­er ma­ter­i­als were seen to be set­ting fires in­side the build­ing.

“They were slum­lords,” Sherid­an said. 

The Licht­en­steins’ at­tor­ney, Steph­en Cozen, pre­vi­ously told CBS that the Licht­en­steins are not li­able for the fire.

No crim­in­al charges were filed against the Licht­en­steins after the April 2012 fire, but the fire is re­portedly the sub­ject of an on­go­ing grand jury in­vest­ig­a­tion and a fed­er­al probe. ••

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