In an old city with a tight budget and crumbling factories from another era, City Council is considering a smart bill that would force owners of commercial and industrial buildings to have an insurance policy that would help cover demolition if a structure is deemed a hazard.
The Nutter administration has yet to weigh in on the bill, saying it wants to consider the legal and planning implications first. That's fine, but if flaws are found in the legislation, the mayor should help figure out ways to fix them.
Philadelphia's old lunch-pail neighborhoods, especially those along the Delaware River, are lined with empty factories casting wide shadows on residential neighborhoods.
Last month's fatal fire at the Thomas W. Buck Hosiery factory was a painful reminder of how dangerous those buildings can be. Two firemen died in the April 9 blaze, and a number of occupied residences in the immediate area were threatened.
Though Buck's owners were planning to convert the building to condominiums, hoping to cash in on Philadelphia's growing population of young adults, other large structures are going nowhere but down.
Too many owners have stopped paying taxes and making sure their structures are safe. But whether they're developers waiting for a neighborhood to come back or bankrupt businesses, they are ultimately responsible for what happens to their property.
The bill sponsored by Council members Maria Quiñones Sánchez, Bill Greenlee, and Marian Tasco would force owners to maintain their buildings and make sure they are secure. If windows and doors could let in interlopers, owners must seal them with 14 -gauge steel.
This creative solution is part of an encouraging strategy to free Philadelphia from the burden of its past failures by attacking blight and abandonment.