Sunday, February 19, 2017

In Philly, opting for home deconstruction over demolition

Greg Trainor, founder of Philadelphia Community Corps
Caitlin McCabe writes for the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Cities from Seattle and Portland to Baltimore have been experimenting with deconstruction as an alternative to demolition. With more than 245,000 residential structures and nearly 50,000 commercial structures demolished nationwide each year, generating by some estimates about 136 million tons of waste, preservationists have touted deconstruction as a system that could transform development practices — and cities.

Skeptics, however, have pegged deconstruction as an inefficient and initially expensive system — one, they say, that cannot expeditiously tackle urban blight.

The idea behind it is simple: When a home falls victim to blight, a developer, property owner, even a city planner can hire a team of deconstructionists to dismantle it. Rather than eliminating the house in a quick job with a demolition truck, the team instead strips it down, salvaging doors, bathtubs, and bricks along the way. By using manual labor, advocates say, deconstruction can boost local employment.

It’s an approach that (Greg) Trainor's deconstruction company, Philadelphia Community Corps, is banking on. In 2010, it was estimated, 40,000 parcels here — both properties and tracts of land — were vacant. Recent estimates from the city’s Department of Licenses & Inspections put the number of vacant structures alone at about 15,000

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