Northeast Times

City begins to tear down Frankford home damaged in ‘13 fire

Con­tract­ors began tear­ing down the roof of 4712 Worth St. on Monday morn­ing. The home has been boarded up since 2013. MARIA POUCH­NIKOVA / TIMES PHOTO

A city con­tract­or on Monday began tear­ing down a Frank­ford home that was heav­ily dam­aged in a 2013 fire.

Neigh­bor Tom Gitto, whose house shares a wall with the dam­aged home, was happy to see work­ers chop­ping away at the roof on Monday morn­ing. Gitto’s home was dam­aged by wa­ter and smoke in the Ju­ly 6, 2013, fire. On rainy or hu­mid days, he said, he can still smell smoke from the ad­ja­cent build­ing

Soon after the fire, the city’s De­part­ment of Li­censes and In­spec­tions lis­ted 4712 Worth St. as “im­min­ently dan­ger­ous” on its web­site. It had been boarded up and un­used since 2013.

Well, not com­pletely un­used, Gitto said. Rac­coons and pos­sums had taken up res­id­ence.

Neigh­bors had com­plained about the prop­erty’s con­di­tion dur­ing sev­er­al pub­lic meet­ings in Frank­ford this May and June. Gitto said he brought his con­cerns to a Frank­ford Civic As­so­ci­ation meet­ing last sum­mer. He said he’d called the city’s 311 sys­tem nu­mer­ous times.

Ac­cord­ing to Scott Mul­derig, L&I’s dir­ect­or of emer­gency ser­vices, the build­ing dates to the 1920s. One of the de­part­ment’s pre-ap­proved con­tract­ors is hand­ling the de­moli­tion, he said.

Ac­cord­ing to L&I’s on­line re­cords, which were last up­dated in Septem­ber 2013, 4712 Worth has a partly col­lapsed wall, floor and ceil­ing dam­age and a fire-dam­aged roof. Ac­cord­ing to Of­fice of Prop­erty As­sess­ment on­line re­cords, the prop­erty is owned by Ron­ald Wil­li­ams of Fernand­ina Beach, Fla., who bought it in 2011. The city Rev­en­ue De­part­ment’s site shows more than $1,100 in taxes are owed and that the de­lin­quent ac­count has been re­ferred to a col­lec­tion agency.

“I like to think they are get­ting more pro­act­ive in these cases,” City Coun­cil­wo­man Maria Quinones Sanc­hez (D-7th dist.) said of the city’s move to de­mol­ish the prop­erty. She said com­plaints about the prop­erty were most likely in the city’s 311 sys­tem. She said the build­ing re­cently was re­in­spec­ted and the de­moli­tion was ordered.

The trouble is, she ad­ded, there are plenty more prop­er­ties like 4712 Worth St., and the city doesn’t have the re­sources to deal with them all. “We can’t keep up with it,” she said.

Be­cause 4712 is at­tached to the an ad­ja­cent build­ing, the costs of tear­ing it down go up. Care­ful not to dam­age the house next door, wreck­ers can’t use a lot of heavy equip­ment.

“It costs a lot of money,” the coun­cil­wo­man said. “When you have to do a hand de­moli­tion, the price can go up to $30,000.”

This one will cost even more. Mul­derig put the price at about $34,000, which is $5,000 more than the own­er paid for it in 2011. Mul­derig said the own­er will be billed. ••

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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