UPDATE:  To make this even easier, we found who the owner is (we also checked to make sure he still lives there):

Craig Nordland
3555 Lakeview Circle
Doylestown, PA 18902

One day, a long time ago (over a year ago), this house burned down at 1657 E Berks St, turning it into Fishtown’s newest shell…

1657 E BERKS
1657 E BERKS (yeah, those are two pitbulls on the 2nd floor)

This is an illegal rental that is owned by 2542 Tulip LLC, a shell corporation that’s covering for Craig Nordland, an absentee Bucks County landlord-owner.  As is the case with many private market low-income rentals, the risks of absentee landlord + old property and even older wiring and other factors conspired together to torch this house.

This house unfortunately happens to be inside the district of Council President Darrell Clarke.

Let’s take a look at what the block looks like now:

A new house goes up from the burned out shell
A new house is going up across from the burned out shell

It’s not like Fishtowners haven’t complained about the property through the appropriate City channels or to Darrell Clarke’s office, either:

L&I has written the shit out of this property
L&I has written the shit out of this property

L&I has basically done what can be done.   Why am I calling this the “Darrell Clarke House“?  Because district council members wield a huge amount of control over their councilmanic districts.  It’s called Councilmanic Privilege  and Darrell Clarke is the No. 1 endorser of this idea of feudalism.


But with that power comes responsibility, and Council President Clarke certainly had some abilities his office could have used to get rid of this shell, easily.  Let’s point out the most obvious one:

The house owes more than $2,500 in tax liens
The house owes more than $2,500 in tax liens

The most obvious item is that this illegal rental house owes more than $2,500 in back tax liens which Linebarger is currently collecting.  Given that the owner is an LLC with murky contact information, Linebarger can’t really contact anyone to collect on the debt, but Clarke’s office could contact Linebarger and request a push to Sheriff Sale, which it hasn’t.

The other most glaring item is that the house was destroyed by fire.  The Department of Licenses and Inspections can, at any time, send a crew to demolish the house.  I think anyone will agree that a vacant lot is preferable to a house that is so far gone.  The demolition costs the City pays out would then of course be an additional lien against the property, since this absentee investor is likely to not pay the costs.

But what about 2542 Tulip LLC… is it a completely defunct entity?  No.

It’s still around and has an owner.  Yours truly got 2044 E Fletcher, another property that 2542 Tulip owned, to Sheriff’s Sale.  At the last minute the owner stepped in and paid the bill and then sold the property over to a holding company:

2044 Fletcher deed transfer
2044 Fletcher deed transfer

Later in this deed it is mentioned that 2542 Tulip shares the same premises address as Eastcoast Financial Company, another entity tied to 2542 Tulip.

Also on this deed we see the signature by 2542 Tulip’s owner, Craig Nordland.

2542 Tulip's president
2542 Tulip’s president

Looking in Philadelphia Municipal Court, we found this lawsuit (below) launched by former tenants of Craig Nordland who claimed that he withheld their security deposit.  The case filed reveals at the time where Craig Nordland was living in 2008.  Judge Prezensa found in favor of the tenants by default, as Nordland was a no-show.


For good measure, we went and checked the deed recordings for 236 W. Highland Avenue, where these tenants were living, to see if Craig Nordland’s signature on the deed looks like the one for 2542 Tulip LLC.  They’re a good match, particularly the far-right bit of the signature which is nearly identical in both documents.

Craig Nordland's signature
Craig Nordland’s signature on the Highland Avenue deed

Back when GRB Law (other collection agency the City uses) was pursuing foreclosure against the Fletcher Street property, it had to come up with a list of addresses that would likely hit the owner somewhere, given the design of 2542 Tulip’s registration to evade process service and municipal code enforcers.  We’ll save Clarke’s office some time and post the list straight from the court filing:


But at the end of the day, none of this will really matter; because Darrell Clarke doesn’t give a shit about Fishtown and he’s perfectly happy to let that house otherwise sit and rot while nobody can buy it and redevelop it to get rid of this blight.   All Clarke’s office has to do is tell Linebarger to start a foreclosure proceeding.

Will there be a buyer for this shell?   Look at the photo of the house going up across the street, above.  This shell will sell at a Sheriff Sale auction in seconds.

Darrell Clarke believes in total control of land use, so the only explanation here is that it must be his priority to see that this blight stays there until the End Of Days.

Because that’s how Clarke rolls.


p.s.  Just for good measure… we went and double-checked to make sure Craig Nordland still lives at the address in Bucks County his ex-tenants have for him.  He’s still there, with his wife Elizabeth… at the end of an exclusive cul-de-sac:

Craig Nordland Tax Parcel ID


Craig Nordland's House
Craig Nordland’s House
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Late yesterday evening this lovely illegal rental house burnt to a crisp:

1657 E BERKS
1657 E BERKS – Yes, there are two pitbulls in the second floor window.  I know not why.

It’s one of the few slumlord/speculator houses remaining in Fishtown.   Most slumlords have already cashed in and moved on but this particular pernicious owner has been playing the slumlord game well.

Just a couple months ago East Coast Financial, which owns the house, rescued it from Sheriff’s Sale at the very last second:

In cases like these where you have a savvy slumlord who knows how to play the system, what to do?

There’s always Act 90 and the Doors and Windows law, where L&I could come in and fine the owner $300 per broken opening in the house, wait for the fines to crawl up to a high dollar amount and then demand immediate restitution or L&I will move to seize the property; but that’s pretty remote.  You will need full support of your district City Council member’s office prodding this along so that L&I actually does it.

This house happens to be inside Council President Darrell Clarke’s councilmanic district.  So the likelihood of his office lifting a finger or doing much of anything seems unlikely.  I guess Fishtown will be enjoying its new burnt out home-sweet-home for a while.

Have no fear though.  Now that it’s obviously blighted, maybe NKCDC (New Kensington Community Development Corporation) or FNA (Fishtown Neighbors Association) can petition Common Pleas Court to take the house under Act 135, hand it to a homebuilder to do something with it, then sell it.

Note:  Yup, this is a rant.  If you’re not interested in rants today, then move along.

[Feeling helpless after the building collapse?  Donate to help defray the funeral costs of the victims.]

Michael Nutter, I have to say I haven’t been more frustrated with you at any point in your career since I’ve lived in this city until this moment right now.  I watched the pressers and your frustration with handling them all day Wednesday.  The entire universe for a fleeting moment was focused on tragedy in the urban core of your city, the city you command and control, and it made Philadelphia look like a city in the third world.

What’s the difference between the Rana Plaza building collapse and the, what I shall dub anyway, the Basciano Collapse?   The Rana Plaza garment factory collapse has actually led to a worldwide movement to shop for guilt-free clothes.   What reform movement will come from the Basciano Collapse?


I want you to look at this picture.  Look at her carefully.  What are you going to tell Anne’s mom and dad?  Have you talked to them yet today?  Will you ever?

Anne Bryan [Photo from PAFA]
Anne Bryan [Photo from PAFA]

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Edward Kelly’s Piece of Shit He’s Owned on Gordon Street for over 27 Years  [GMaps Photo, 2011]
Hi Mr. Edward Kelly of Edward Kelly General Contracting!

I know you live at 441 Linden Avenue, Glenside, PA 19038.

I know your telephone numbers, (215) 887-3158 and (215) 887-1496.

I have a copy of your deed, where you have held title to this property in Fishtown for precisely twenty-seven (27) years, seven (7) months, and thirteen (13) days.

I see where you’ve faked out L&I with a permit to do some minor repairs, yet you have availed yourself at nothing short of not making the basic repairs to the house, namely the broken doors and windows, of which all of them are broken.

Philadelinquency Has Issued A Ruling:

On the question of your L&I Notice of Violations, of which you’ve received TWO (2) of these, NOV #’s 349,144 and 369,783, which the Department of Licenses & Inspections re-inspected as early as February 19th of this year, and L&I begin citing September 10th, 2012, assuming L&I acts precipitiously in bringing your case to Blight Court for the Doors & Windows amendment to Title IV, of the Philadelphia Code, Subpart PM 306.2/4, fining you $300 per broken opening per day, for 5 broken openings cited in the NOVs, which is the sum of one thousand fifteen-hundred ($1,500) dollars a day you are not complying with with Title IV, you owe us, the People of Fishtown compensation for your self-inflicted transgressions against Us for one hundred ninety-seven (197) days of blight to the sum of two hundred ninety-five thousand five hundred dollars ($295,500).

Please pay in cash.

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Last night in Bridesburg was the kick-off meeting for the Problem Property Advisory Council which will operate in the 6th Councilmanic District.

The 6th District has been suffering sharply-declining property values due to the insurgency of negligent property owners (BobbyHenon.com)

Do you want to send a house up to PPAC to be worked on?   Learn how after the jump.

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