Neighbor efforts helped secure former UCP site that fell prey to vandalism

by Walt Maguire
Posted 1/13/21

Neighbors of the former Blossom Philadelphia property, 102 E. Mermaid Lane, were concerned that the new owners were neglecting the buildings. Things improved last week when the Goldenberg Group responded.

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Neighbor efforts helped secure former UCP site that fell prey to vandalism

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Neighbors of the former Blossom Philadelphia property, 102 E. Mermaid Lane, were concerned that the new owners were neglecting the buildings, with conditions worsening over the last four months. Things improved last week when the Goldenberg Group responded with improvements and a pledge to be more attentive to their concerns.

Blossom's license for its residence program was revoked in 2017 and it closed its day programs for adults and children with intellectual disabilities in 2018. The Goldenberg Group bought the property but they have not developed it yet.

Neighbors say there were no serious concerns until September 2020, when the exterior lights failed and were not repaired. They noticed teenagers skateboarding on the roof. Then individuals and groups began to get into the buildings.

“At first it was just people doing urban exploration,” said Mark Badstubner, who lives across the street. “Kids played around, but there was no overt vandalism. Then it escalated. Somebody shot off all the fire extinguishers in the building. Doors would remain open. Breaking of windows.”

Reports reached the neighbors that interior walls, fixtures and wiring had been heavily damaged.

By October, break-ins occurred on an almost daily basis.  Goldenberg sent people out numerous times to board up windows, but did not seem to routinely check the large premises. By December, things escalated for the neighbors when they saw teenagers breaking windows in daylight, with no concern about being seen.

 “At that point we started calling the police about it,” said Bradstubner.

Neighbors also filed 311 reports. There were approximately 28 neighbors involved by this point, on Mermaid Lane and Ardleigh Street

“I will say in the last week-and-a-half, there has been major positive changes in their [Goldenberg’s] approach to the property,” Bradstubner said. “They appear to have taken a much more comprehensive approach.”

Keith Kunz, another Mermaid Lane resident, met with Goldenberg Group representatives on Thursday, Jan. 7 and reported back to a neighborhood meeting that evening that the company had devised a plan to ecure the property. By the time of the meeting, a crew had cleaned up the property and a security team was on-site. The exterior lighting on the building complex and the large parking lot will be restored, if the damage is not cost-prohibitive.

In a statement to the Local, the Goldenberg Group said it was made aware of problems at the building recently and were committed to a plan to make sure things did not get worse.

“The Goldenberg Group continues to stay vigilant in an ongoing effort to protect and secure this property,” the statement read. “ In addition to the clean-up effort, we have also reached out to the local 14th District police community liaison and engaged on-site security to monitor and secure the building and grounds to mitigate trespassing or further vandalism.  Our interest and intention always, is to be good neighbors first, keeping the care and custody of our property and the community our highest priority.”

Bradstubner seemed to be satisfied with the response.

 “I truly believe that Goldenberg does not want to be a bad neighbor,” he said. “We all want the same thing.”

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