Action News Troubleshooters help get rid of a neighborhood eyesore

Wednesday, May 03, 2017 05:49AM
Troubleshooters help get rid of a neighborhood eyesore. Nydia Han reports during Action News at 11 on May 2, 2017.

SOUTH PHILADELPHIA - Some parents of young children are understandably aggravated and alarmed.

And after getting unsatisfactory action from the owner and the city, they reached out to the Troubleshooters.

"So it has no windows in any of the spots here. A lot of boarded up places. There was a tree growing through here," said resident Keith Parker.

If Parker doesn't laugh, he might cry.

He and his family have been living next door to this blighted property in South Philadelphia's Graduate Hospital neighborhood for six years!

"It looks like it could collapse in the front," said Parker.

Philadelphia's Licenses and Inspections has cited the house for violations - the first time in August 2011.

And when the Action News Troubleshooters visited the house on Grays Ferry Avenue, we saw this notice from 2013 and this one from 2014, which says the owner is required to repair or demolish within 30 days.

"So they have to repair the rear of the building, the roof, and the cornice," said Parker.

But years later, the picture below shows how the building looked.

"I don't think he's ever gonna do anything with it," added Parker.

So the Action News Troubleshooters were called in to help.

I sat down with the owner of the blighted property, John Baird.

What will it take for you to tear down this property, so it's no longer unsafe to the family that lives next door?

"As soon as they lift the violations, I can get new permits," he said.

Then you'll tear it down?

"And then I'll tear it down," he said.

Baird and the city have different stories on who's responsible for the hold-up on this property.

L&I says it actually instructed Baird to obtain the demolition permit.

The good news is - after the Action News Troubleshooters talked to both parties, the demolition was approved.

Jim DiBartolo believes it happened just in time.

When asked what condition the house was found in, DiBartolo said, "To be in very poor condition, very unsafe. The whole back was collapsed. The roof had sunk into the 3rd floor."
But now the potential hazard is gone, much to the relief of all the neighbors in this Graduate Hospital community.

"We're really happy it's coming down. The windows were blown out. I never knew if there was anything falling off the house, so we'd always walk on the opposite side of the street," said resident Blair Sullivan.
It brought a smile to the face of another resident.

It makes her happy, "Yes, progress is good," said Joyce Phillips-Graves.

Baird says he does have big plans to develop the lot - and hopes to begin construction in June.

And a spokesperson for L&I tells Action News, the agency is actively working to improve how it manages the problem of unsafe and vacant buildings.

In fact, Andrew Newell showed me new advanced mapping and aerial imaging helping the city more quickly and accurately identify issues.

Newell said, "This case is an excellent example of why L&I is working to improve how it manages the problem of vacant and unsafe buildings.

L&I has partnered with the City Office of Innovation and Technology (OIT) on an initiative that is using advanced mapping, aerial imaging, and data mining to more quickly and accurately identify the next steps that should be taken on these buildings.

In some cases, that will mean figuring out which buildings are most dangerous and therefore, should be prioritized to be demolished first.

In other cases, that will mean generating a list of cases that should be immediately considered for escalation to court - such as properties that have carried violations for a long time, are negatively impacting the community, and have an identifiable owner who can be held accountable in court."

Send a breaking news alert
Report a correction or typo
Learn more about the 6abc apps
(Copyright ©2018 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.)