Storm destroys Philly warehouse wall, splattering bricks across the street

The Strawberry Mansion building had been sitting vacant for a while.

The scene outside a partial building collapse in Strawberry Mansion on Monday

The scene outside a partial building collapse in Strawberry Mansion on Monday

Instagram / @nogunzone

With winds high enough to merit a region-wide tornado warning, Monday’s storm caused thousands of power outages in the Philly suburbs, and ripped up buildings, billboards and boardwalks at the Jersey Shore. It also wreaked some minor havoc in Philly.

The wall of a vacant building in Strawberry Mansion collapsed into the street. No injuries have been reported, but there’s pretty dramatic video footage of the aftermath.

In an Instagram video viewed more than 100k times, a flattened pile of cinder blocks can be seen covering the entire width of the sidewalk there West Sedgley meets Montgomery Avenue. There also appear to be exposed support beams jutting out from the sides of the building.

The Philadelphia Fire Department was called to the scene around 1 p.m., spokesperson Kathy Matheson told Billy Penn. Firefighters cordoned off the area and notified the Department of Licenses and Inspections.

Matheson said the building, located at 3032-3046 W. Sedgley Ave. where Strawberry Mansion meets Brewerytown, had little to no roof. L&I confirmed the partial wall collapse was likely caused by high winds during the storm.

The property is owned by Grosso Construction, Inc., an Ambler-based company. Grosso Construction purchased the property for $85,000 in 2010, according to deed records, even though the property was assessed at $25,000 at the time. Its assessment today is listed as $59,000.

Bordered by Brewerytown to the South and East Falls to the Northwest, Strawberry Mansion sets between two rapidly gentrifying communities. Neighbors there are starting to see changes tip-toe into their communities. Between 2018 and 2019, property values in Strawberry Mansion and Brewerytown rose 47%, the largest spike of all Philly neighborhoods.

The building has been in sorry condition for a while, according to L&I records. In January 2007, a prior owner received violations for a partial roof collapse, a partial wall collapse and a loose wall with missing bricks. The violations were resolved in August 2009, per L&I records, and the case was closed.

Grosso Construction is not a stranger to safety issues, however. In 2014, a blind Northeast Philadelphia woman sued Grosso and other parties after she tripped on a section of the sidewalk that was under construction. Grosso was the general contractor on that project.

As for the destroyed industrial property at Sedgley and Montgomery, L&I said the street will be closed until the property owner brings in equipment to clean up the situation. The department declared the building imminently dangerous and imposed $2,600 daily fines until repairs are made.

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