Dodgy Renovation Taking Place Blocks from Rittenhouse Square?

About two months ago, we told you that work had commenced on the historic Meade building at 19th & Delancey. As the construction work has continued, neighbors have become concerned and angered as it’s become clear that shortcuts are being taken and best practices not being followed.

Back in May

The list of complaints is long and worrisome. Visits to the site indicate that
asbestos and other materials that had reportedly been found in the basement were removed without appropriate certification. The exterior red paint was removed with power washers in May, violating code in the historic district around Rittenhouse Square. Worse still, with no netting or scaffolding, this spray created a fine, red film that clung to any surface within 60-100 feet for weeks and sent thousands of gallons of red paint-laden water down the storm drains.

Results of the power washing

The sidewalks surrounding this and adjacent properties are still stained red today, nearly two months and twenty inches of rain later. Concerned residents living nearby had tests run on the paint that showed the lead content is under hazmat level but above what OSHA considers a hazard, measuring at 1.35 parts/K. Neighbors also reported squatting and drug use in and behind the building. This property has been causing headaches for quite some time.

Current view

The permits on the house are in the name of its former owner, Susan Schwartz. Schwartz also owns the property next door. The new owner, a developer partnership/LLP, bought the house for well below what would seem to be a market price of $1.1M, and neighbors believe the previous and current owners are working together.

L&I has no comment on the provenance of the permits, and there have been numerous complaints from neighbors to 311. Interestingly, especially in the wake of the tragic building collapse at 22nd & Market, no one in the City departments that would have oversight seems to have any desire to learn more about this situation or get involved.

Update: Calls to L+I went unreturned when collecting information for this post, but representatives have been
extremely responsive today. A detailed report of the permits and visits, and the documented involvement the City has had with this property is forthcoming.

Conversation has also started with representatives of the building, and we will also provide updates on their actions in working with local preservationists for this property in the coming days.

–Lauren Summers