Contact Us

Multifamily Construction Snafu Leads To Emergency Demolition Of Longtime Family Home

A 104-year-old row home in Philly's Francisville neighborhood underwent emergency demolition Wednesday after excavation work on a multifamily project next door caused its foundation to collapse and the home to begin disintegrating.

An emergency demolition at 729 N. 16th St. in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia-based developer The Regis Group had been constructing an 18-unit apartment complex at 725-727 N. 16th St., adjacent to a three-story home at 729 N. 16th St., when disaster struck.

Several members of the Mack family, who owned the home for three generations, turned up to watch it begin to crumble and tilt toward a gash in the earth next door by early Wednesday afternoon. 

Owner Tyrone Mack had just gotten home from the hospital for treatment of colon cancer when the city notified him of plans to level his property, he told Bisnow.

“I can’t believe it,” he said.

Mack’s son, his daughter and his daughter's family lived in the home. Mack's daughter also ran a small business out of the home, said Joyce Booth, Mack's sister.

The Mack and Booth family observes the demolition of their Francisville home, which had been in their family for their three generations.

City of Philadelphia officials condemned the tilting building at 11 a.m. after being alerted to the situation following an emergency call, a city official who declined to be named because they weren't authorized to speak to the press, told Bisnow at the site.

A representative of The Regis Group at the scene left quickly and without taking questions as the situation began to go awry. The firm didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

Mangual Demolition won a hastily assembled on-site bid for the demolition work for $38K and got the go-ahead from the city to begin tearing the home’s roof off in hopes of retrieving some items like safes and photos from its top floor.

“That building is going to come crashing down, there’s no way around it,” Mangual Demolition owner Walter Mangual said, adding that this isn't the first time he had seen this kind of collapse.

“Unfortunately, it’s happening more often than not,” he said. “In a sense, these excavators, they’re digging too deep, digging way too deep. Everyone wants a deep basement, and that’s what happens. It’s sad.”

Leading up to Wednesday, The Regis Group project excavations had dug at least 20 feet deep near the Mack home. Permits filed for the consolidated build at 725-727 N. 16 St. indicate that Regis was allowed to demolish another row house near the Mack residence, leaving the home's south side exposed where it previously hadn't been.

An excavator with Dornelas Construction Inc. was on-site on Wednesday prior to the emergency call, and R&D Construction Group was the approved contractor on permits for the apartment site. R&D didn't immediately respond to calls for comment.

The city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections issued R&D a permit in September “for the application of exterior wall sidings for the purpose of finishing walls exposed during demolition (including party walls and independent bearing walls abutting party walls) without submitting plans,” the city’s permit site says. 

The building opposite the project site at 723 N. 16th St. had signs of boarding. Meanwhile, the sale of a nearby home at 731 N. 16th St. closed for $700K Tuesday, according to Redfin. The city has also labeled that home unsafe.

The Regis Group had touted the new multifamily building on its website as offering “two, three, and 4 bedroom floor plans. Great ameneties and location, perfect for recent graduates or new residents of the area who are looking to get the most out of city living!”

CORRECTION, APRIL 11, 12 P.M. ET: This story has been updated with the correct age of the collapsed home.