Building Owners in Philadelphia need to be aware of the February 2010 Philadelphia façade ordinance. This ordinance was enacted in response to the recent high profile collapses of building façades that severely injured or even killed pedestrians walking on the sidewalks.
In a nutshell, the new ordinance affects building higher than 6 stories or that have appurtenances in excess of 60 feet in height. If your building falls into this category, and most of the tall Philadelphia buildings with their intricate ledges and facades do, then you will be required to hire a licensed professional who is experienced in building facades or structural engineering to evaluate your building. The engineer will deliver a report of "safe", "unsafe" or "safe with a repair and maintenance program." If preventative action is required, it must be performed within a very tight time schedule. All of these reports will be filed with the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections.
The inspection requirement will be phased in over the next 5 years based upon the age of the building. The oldest buildings will require certification by June 30, 2011, and re-inspection is required every 5 years after the initial report. Going forward, we are advising our clients that this will be an issue for both landlords and tenants, as inspections, certifications and repairs will impact tenant costs as well as creating potential business access issues.