Philly building collapse preceded by report of ‘unsafe conditions’ on block

 The building at 2136 Market St. in Center City Philadelphia collapsed June 5, killing six people and injuring 14. (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY)

The building at 2136 Market St. in Center City Philadelphia collapsed June 5, killing six people and injuring 14. (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY)

A month before a building fell to pieces at 22nd and Market streets, a concerned citizen emailed Philadelphia’s 3-1-1 complaint line to alert the city about “unsafe conditions” at the property next door. 

The citizen was worried about 2134 Market St., which was being torn down by Griffin Campbell Construction, the same company that would later begin demolishing the building that collapsed Wednesday, at 2136 Market St.

On May 8, Philadelphia’s 3-1-1 department submitted the citizen’s report to the Licenses and Inspections department, mayoral spokesman Mark McDonald said.

L&I visited the property on May 14, city officials said. At that time, Griffin Campbell Construction had not yet started demolishing the now-collapsed property at 2136 Market St., Mayor Michael Nutter said.

“That building was fully intact,” Nutter said. “No work had been done yet.” 

City records indicate that the inspector determined that the complaint was unfounded, “due to a proper permit on file and contractor on site.”

L&I Commissioner Carlton Williams said there is no indication of prior complaints against the inspector who investigated the claim in May.

Despite the slew of neighbors and passersby who complained yesterday that the demolition looked shoddy, the city said 3-1-1 received no other recent reports about the properties at 2132, 2134 and 2136 Market St.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration also received a complaint about Griffin Campbell Construction prior to the tragedy. On May 15, OSHA conducted an inspection of the company’s construction site.

A spokeswoman said she cannot comment on OSHA’s findings, since the investigation is still active.

Additional reporting by Emma Jacobs.

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