UPDATE: To make this even easier, we found who the owner is (we also checked to make sure he still lives there):
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…
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:
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 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 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:
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.
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.
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:
Tags: Councilmember Darrell Clarke | Craig Nordland | Elizabeth Nordland