February 08, 2023
A woman was injured Wednesday morning when she was hit in the head by a concrete slab that fell from a Center City apartment building's facade where contractors had been working, authorities said.
Records with the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections show the Walnut Square Apartments building, at 201 S. 13th Street, had failed two inspections in November and had several unresolved violations related to the safety of the building's structure.
The 30-year-old woman had been walking on the sidewalk on the east side of South 13th Street around 9:30 a.m. when the debris fell and hit her, investigators said. Medics transported her to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, where she is in critical condition.
The Walnut Square Apartments building was built in 1901 and is 12 stories tall. The owner of the building is listed as Walnut Square Partners and the property was valued at $18.29 million for 2023.
Officials from the Department of Licenses & Inspections were at the scene. City officials confirmed the incident on Wednesday morning but did not immediately provide more information.
L&I's property history for the Walnut Square Apartments lists two open cases. The first from Nov. 3 describes the building as "unsafe," and includes four violations. One of those violations is for an unsafe structure, which L&I defines as a building that is "found to be dangerous to the life, health, property or safety of the public or (its) occupants ..." The violation description also states a building may be declared an unsafe structure if it "is so damaged, decayed, dilapidated, structurally unsafe or of such faulty construction ... that partial or complete collapse is possible."
Two of the other violations from the Nov. 3 reports are for deteriorating concrete components and failing exterior walls. A third violation ordered the property owner to hire a Pennsylvania-licensed professional engineer to assess the problems with the building and determine how they could be repaired. That violation also required the building's owners to immediately install protective measures on the sidewalk.
The second case against Walnut Square Apartments, opened on Nov. 30, lists one violation for the building's owners failing to submit a facade inspection report prepared by a licensed engineer or architect.
The building was originally the St. James Hotel, designed by architect Horace Trumbauer. The structure was added to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places in 1973 and the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.