Philadelphia’s Fair Housing Commission has asked a private developer to address all outstanding code violations at a soon-to-be-renovated apartment complex in West Mount Airy.
Iron Stone Strategic Capital Partners purchased the four-building site at 126-138 W. Allens Lane over the summer with intentions of overhauling its interior and exterior. The roughly $2 million project would require all tenants to be evicted.
The complex is currently in rough condition, though. There are more than 100 unresolved violations – roof, ceiling, plumbing and electrical – connected to units throughout the property.
With the help of the Tenant Union Representative Network, a group of tenants filed a fair housing complaint against two companies connected to Iron Stone to have those problems fixed.
Under the city’s Fair Housing Ordinance, tenants cannot be evicted until violations with the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections have been handled as long as rent is up-to-date, and a resident has not “committed a nuisance” or caused the violation itself.
Following a two-hour hearing on Oct. 3, the Commission unanimously voted to continue the case until Dec. 19.
The ruling does not amount to a formal victory for tenants, but instead gives Iron Stone time to tackle the code violations. When the case resumes, the commission will ask for proof of what work has been completed, typically through documents prepared by L&I.
“We’ll get a status update on what, if any, of the violations have been cured or corrected,” said Rev. Ralph E. Blanks, who chairs the commission. “It’s standard procedure.”
TURN Executive Director Phil Lord, who is representing tenants in the case, views the decision as a victory nonetheless.
“It was what we had hoped for and expected. It’s a pretty strong case,” said Lord.
Andrew Eisenstein, managing director of Iron Stone, declined an interview request, saying in an email to NewsWorks that the “issues are too complex.”
Construction is expected to start in earnest by the end of the year and be completed in 18 months.
The project will yield a total of 54 one- and two-bedroom apartments.