Philly developers set a new record for demolition permits in 2018, the first year private companies razed more buildings than L&I did

Developers began tearing down a record number of Philadelphia buildings in 2018, with more demolitions getting started over the last 12 months than any other year on record.

Data from the city’s Department of Licenses & Inspections shows that the agency doled out permits that led to 514 demolition projects since the beginning of the year. That’s up from 491 permits in 2017 and just 151 at a historic low in 2009, in the wake of the 2008 housing crash.

In addition to those 514 owner-initiated teardowns, demolition began on another 422 buildings that city inspectors deemed unsafe — adding up to a total of 937 knockdowns initiated in 2018.

Notably, 2018 was the first year on record that private demolition starts eclipsed those paid for by the city.

While L&I does not track end uses for demolition projects, Leo Addimando of the Philadelphia Building Industry Association attributed the uptick in demolition to a robust housing market.

“If anything, this increase in demo permits is a sign of the continued strength of both the for-sale housing and rental markets in Philadelphia,” he wrote in an email