Who Was Checking Up On Demolition At Collapse Site?

Who Was Checking Up On Demolition At Collapse Site?

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PHILADELPHIA -

The corner of 22nd and Market streets now lays in ruins after Wednesday's deadly building collapse.

What was left of the Salvation Army Thrift Store has been demolished. Metal and splintered wood is now all that remains.

FOX 29 wants to know who applied for the permits to tear down that building, and who was checking up on this job? Investigative Reporter Jeff Cole reported live Thursday afternoon from City Hall, working to get us answers.

A couple of things are at issue, Cole reported. First, did the demolition contractor, as required, alert the Department of Licenses and Inspections just before the demolition was supposed to start. There are indications that possibly they didn't.

And why didn't L&I inspectors return to the site when they were first called there back in May?

New video has emerged of the ill-fated demolition under way, over the weekend. It shows a sign being pulled from the building and crashing to the sidewalk below.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says it opened an investigation of the demolition contractor, Griffin Campbell Construction, which operates out of a North Philly address, back on May 15.

An OSHA spokesperson says the caller was fearful workers could fall at that Market Street site but wouldn't leave a name. There's no word on whether OSHA will take action.

A woman claiming to be the daughter of demo contractor Griffin Campbell says her dad feels for the collapse victims.

"He's mourning the loss of those victims just like everyone else," the daughter said.

And what is he saying about all of the criticism that he's hearing, Cole asked?

"What can he say?" answered the daughter.

Records seem to say a lot.

They show that company owner Griffin Campbell has a criminal history and a record of owing the city back taxes, Cole reported.

On Thursday, City Councilman Jim Kenney said those back taxes may have been why Campbell used a third-party to pull his city demo permit.

"He has tax arrearage in business taxes, net profit taxes and, again, the weight stacks issue, so he was tax delinquent, as far as I can see," Kenney said. "And he filed for Chapter 11 in 2011. So, he would not have been eligible, under our current rules, to get a permit."

Philadelphia has moved to shut down other Campbell jobs, including a "stop work order" slapped on the door of a Walnut Street address at 10 p.m. on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Mayor Michael Nutter says city inspectors were called 2134 Market St. by a complaint, not the building that collapsed, 2136 Market St., back in May.

And, at that time, all seemed OK.

"That demolition had not yet started. That building was fully intact, the sign was in place," Nutter said during a Thursday morning news conference.

L&I says there are 300 open demolition permits issued in Philadelphia since 2009, 100 of them in 2013. Only 10 percent have been inspected. Now, L&I is pledging to do them all by next week, Cole reported.

 
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