Former Roxborough nursing home of horrors to be demolished this week, making way for Kingsley Court

There’s a nascent effort to preserve historic and significant properties in Roxborough and along Ridge Avenue from demolition and redevelopment, but you won’t likely see anyone lined up today to keep the building at 5627 Ridge Ave. from a wrecking ball.

“The equipment is on its way to the site, they’re on their way there and we should be banging it down starting Tuesday,” said Stephen M. Goldner, the architect and planner for the residential neighborhood set to rise where now stands the former Ivy Ridge Personal Care Center.

The L&I history page for 5627 Ridge Ave., where the notorious former nursing home once operated, is a triple-scroller: Three full screens’ worth of past violations on everything from fire safety to food preparation. Even after the nursing home was shut down, a man froze to death in 2009 while living in an illegal boarding house operating in the tax-delinquent property.

Demolition this week 

By week’s end, the 3.5 acre site should be cleared to make way for Kingsley Court, a cul-de-sac neighborhood of 32 twin carriage houses. Goldner, who first appeared before neighborhood civic groups more than a year ago to present the plan, said he’s been waiting on city permits to get started on the project since a groundbreaking in February.

“We have homes that are sold, the only reason I don’t have houses standing right now is because of the wheels of the city’s approval process,” Goldner said. Of the 32 planned homes, eight are pending sale or under agreement; Goldner said he is still waiting on a few details on water and sewer permits, but with the demolition permit in hand, he’s ready to move ahead.

The Kingsley Court plan had the support of both the Wissahickon Neighbors Civic Association and the city Planning Board, though that body did suggest making Kingsley a through street, connecting to Houghton. However, neighbors and the developer argued against that.

“If I put a street through there it would have been a shortcut” for people coming from Walnut Lane, he said.

The neighborhood’s design, with garage-fronted twins set back from the street, on a suburban-style cul-de-sac, has faced some criticism. But Goldner said the design won’t change, and is reflective of the neighborhood and has not impeded sales of the homes.

“I believe in the garage front, I hate alleys,” he said.

Unpaid tax history

On the tax front, it’s probably a good idea the property will come soon out of the hands of Rosalind Lavin, the Villanova socialite who avoided criminal charges for operating the nursing home of horrors: Under the city’s proposed 2014 tax rates, the total property assessment would have gone from $192,000 to $1,070,100 under AVI.

City records show past tax balances have been settled, but more than $19,000 in 2013 taxes are unpaid. Goldner said all liens will be settled before a planned early June settlement date.

With the demolition, 5627 Ridge Ave. and the address to the rear, 543 Kingsley St., will disappear, as the property is split into 32 different lots, with Kingsley Court addresses.

“The only thing that’s stopping this job is permits from the Streets Department,” Goldner said.

NewsWorks has partnered with independent news gatherer PlanPhilly to provide regular, in-depth, timely coverage of planning, zoning and development news. Contact Amy Z. Quinn at azquinn@planphilly.com.

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