Finding Lichtenstein

When a fire at one of their Kensington properties killed two firefighters in April, the Lichtenstein family of Brooklyn quickly became one of the highest-profile property owners in Philadelphia.

So does the city, which has been pursuing the Lichtensteins for violations of the city code, know how to find the family? Sometimes, yes. And sometimes, um, no.

Heard in the Hall brings you this update courtesy of, a blog that describes itself as a "unique place that covers the ceaseless battle of property vacancy, Real Estate Tax delinquency, blight and the struggle to correct these problems and heal Philadelphia."

Shortly after the fire at the former Bucks Hosiery factory that the Lichtensteins said they wanted to turn into apartments in Kensington, the city reviewed all the properties the family owned here and cited them for mostly minor violations of city code.

One of those cases involved a missing downspout at a Lichtenstein property at 5217 Rodman Street. But the city's writ service contractor was unable to serve the family with court papers, so the case was dismissed.

The thing is, the world learned exactly where the Lichtenstiens lived in Brooklyn. After the fire, reporters flocked there after finding the address in Nexis. It should have been easy for the city to serve the Lichtensteins with papers.

The service failed because of a longstanding problem: Inaccurate addresses in city databases. In this case, service was attempted at the Rodman Street property, a rental, rather than in Brooklyn.

Mark McDonald, a spokesman for the Nutter administration, said the city has been working hard to get more accurate addresses. "We are dealing with thousands of cases per year," he said.

In another case involving a property the Lichtensteins own in Philadelphia, papers were served at the correct address, he noted.

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