Today’s Daily News has a truly revolting expose on the conditions at a long-abandoned YMCA YWCA annex building on the 2000 block of Chestnut Street, a building which is adjacent to a charter school and just two doors down from Starr’s upcoming Mexican restaurant El Rey in the former location of the Midtown IV Diner at 2013 Chestnut Street. According to the article, the building, which is owned by the Redevelopment Authority, features a “fetid stew of biohazards” ranging from toxic mold, asbestos, pigeon droppings, a “stench is so bad that neighbors say they can’t open their windows” and “rats as large as cats.” Yum!
Of course, there’s something else rotten besides the building with the whole business - the RDA hired the cheapest contractor, allegedly without the proper licenses or experience - to attempt to clean up the joint and he botched it. L&I; can’t do anything about it for this particularly Philadelphia reason:
“L&I; has repeatedly cited the building as a hazard, most recently in January, for rats, pigeons, drainage problems and unsealed windows. If the building were privately owned, L&I; could take the owner to court, clean and seal the building at the owner’s expense and place a lien on the property. But because it’s owned by a public agency, L&I; has no enforcement power. The RDA’s board chairman is Mayor Nutter.”
The News attempted to contact Starr and his spokesperson said he wasn’t “available for comment:”
She said she could not provide more details about Starr’s latest eatery or say whether Starr was aware of the abandoned annex, owned by the city’s Redevelopment Authority.
One thing’s for sure, all of that unpleasantly close squalor will make that “gritty-looking roadside bar setting” and “back-room bar with a speakeasy feel” concept seem a lot more realistic than the usual Starr offerins.