Philadelphia Deputy Mayor and Commerce Director Alan Greenberger acknowledged Tuesday that he did not alert city building inspectors after he was warned in May of potentially dangerous developments at a Center City demolition site.
Within an hour of receiving that warning, Greenberger said, he got another e-mail suggesting the problems were being resolved.
In a brief statement released by Mayor Nutter's press office, Greenberger confirmed a report in The Inquirer last weekend that at 4:54 p.m. May 22, he received an e-mail from Thomas J. Simmonds Jr., property manager for STB Investments Corp. STB was demolishing a four-story building at 2136-38 Market St. and trying to negotiate access and safety arrangements with the Salvation Army, which ran a thrift shop next door.
Simmonds complained to Greenberger that the Salvation Army was not responding appropriately to STB's calls, e-mails, and other correspondence.
"Is there anything at all you can do to enable us to complete our demolition . . . in a professional, legal manner without having to deal with such unprofessional - and clearly uncaring - people who claim to be on a charitable mission?" Simmonds asked. "This nonsense must end before someone is seriously injured or worse: Those are headlines none of us want to read or see."
Just 36 minutes later, at 5:30, Greenberger disclosed Tuesday, he received another e-mail, from Alex Wolfington, a real estate marketing consultant working with STB. Wolfington said that he had just talked with a Salvation Army executive, Maj. Charles Deitrick, and outlined several steps to be taken toward an agreement.
"At this point ...," Greenberger said, "it was our understanding that the two parties were now working together to resolve the outstanding issues. No further action was taken, nor did the issue arise in subsequent discussions with representatives of Mr. Basciano over the next week on unrelated matters." Richard Basciano is the principal in STB Investments.
Administration spokesman Mark McDonald said those talks involved Basciano's effort to build a new city firehouse on the 2200 block of Market Street in exchange for the existing firehouse property on the 2100 block, where he hoped to build a residential high-rise.
Eric Weiss, Center City attorney for the Salvation Army, said the e-mail revelations show the sides "were continuing to talk."
"There was a delay, but it was not occasioned all by the Salvation Army," Weiss said. "We communicated on the 23d and didn't hear back till May 29."
In the meantime, demolition continued, until the morning of June 5, when a four-story brick wall collapsed onto the thrift shop, killing six people and injuring 13.