City begins to tear down Frankford home damaged in ’13 fire

Contractors began tearing down the roof of 4712 Worth St. on Monday morning. The home has been boarded up since 2013. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTO

A city contractor on Monday began tearing down a Frankford home that was heavily damaged in a 2013 fire.

Neighbor Tom Gitto, whose house shares a wall with the damaged home, was happy to see workers chopping away at the roof on Monday morning. Gitto’s home was damaged by water and smoke in the July 6, 2013, fire. On rainy or humid days, he said, he can still smell smoke from the adjacent building

Soon after the fire, the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections listed 4712 Worth St. as “imminently dangerous” on its website. It had been boarded up and unused since 2013.

Well, not completely unused, Gitto said. Raccoons and possums had taken up residence.

Neighbors had complained about the property’s condition during several public meetings in Frankford this May and June. Gitto said he brought his concerns to a Frankford Civic Association meeting last summer. He said he’d called the city’s 311 system numerous times.

According to Scott Mulderig, L&I’s director of emergency services, the building dates to the 1920s. One of the department’s pre-approved contractors is handling the demolition, he said.

According to L&I’s online records, which were last updated in September 2013, 4712 Worth has a partly collapsed wall, floor and ceiling damage and a fire-damaged roof. According to Office of Property Assessment online records, the property is owned by Ronald Williams of Fernandina Beach, Fla., who bought it in 2011. The city Revenue Department’s site shows more than $1,100 in taxes are owed and that the delinquent account has been referred to a collection agency.

“I like to think they are getting more proactive in these cases,” City Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez (D-7th dist.) said of the city’s move to demolish the property. She said complaints about the property were most likely in the city’s 311 system. She said the building recently was reinspected and the demolition was ordered.

The trouble is, she added, there are plenty more properties like 4712 Worth St., and the city doesn’t have the resources to deal with them all. “We can’t keep up with it,” she said.

Because 4712 is attached to the an adjacent building, the costs of tearing it down go up. Careful not to damage the house next door, wreckers can’t use a lot of heavy equipment.

“It costs a lot of money,” the councilwoman said. “When you have to do a hand demolition, the price can go up to $30,000.”

This one will cost even more. Mulderig put the price at about $34,000, which is $5,000 more than the owner paid for it in 2011. Mulderig said the owner will be billed. ••