The owners of the McFarland Apartments are expected to hire a company to remove the giant debris pile that has remained untouched after a catastrophic wall collapse more than four years ago.
Adam Klein, attorney for McFarland Apartments, announced at a court status hearing Friday morning the latest timeline for removal of the debris that crushed Howard Henry’s tire shop below.
While the cleanup was supposed to start last year, there were delays in securing a contract with the H&K Group, of Skippack, Pa., Klein told Senior Judge Kevin Hess.
But various issues were sorted out and the contract was expected to be signed Friday after the court hearing, Klein said. Then the company would seek to get a surety bond next week and move forward with obtaining the proper permits from the city.
“Is the car still there?” Hess asked of an car that has been stranded among the tons of dirt, concrete and other debris since May 5, 2016, when the wall that propped up McFarland’s parking lot collapsed.
“Yes,” Klein said. “That should be removed in the cleanup… I feel like we’ll be breaking ground very soon.”
The work will involve removing the tons of debris, starting from the top, and shoring up the 8-unit apartment building closest to the collapse.
Hess declined to set a date for trial to determine fault in the collapse from among more than a dozen defendants who have been sued by Henry. Among the defendants are McFarland Apartments, PennDOT and several subcontractors hired by PennDOT to complete work on the 107-year-old wall in the months before it suddenly collapsed.
Henry’s attorneys pushed for a trial date to be set to get things moving, but Hess said it would serve no purpose to set a trial date when Henry has an appeal pending on a central aspect of the case.
Last year, Hess ruled that plans should immediately go forward with cleanup of the site but that the defendants didn’t have to rebuild Henry’s property to what it was like before the collapse, a method that was being pursued by the previous judge, Judge Lawrence F. Clark.
Hess ruled that it was beyond the court’s authority to determine the amount of damage to and liability for Henry’s business, which had to close after the wall collapsed.
The liability side of the case must be determined by a settlement or jury trial, Hess ruled. Henry has appealed that ruling to Superior Court.
While awaiting a ruling from Superior Court, Hess said he could continue to prepare for trial in Henry’s lawsuit by handling pending motions and discovery questions.
Last year, it looked like the case was headed to a settlement, but now attorneys agree it looks like the matter will likely go to trial, barring any significant changes.
Meanwhile, McFarland has filed its own lawsuit against PennDOT and some subcontractors seeking damages for lost revenue from its 8-unit apartment building and parking lot.
READ: Documents detail history of Harrisburg wall that collapsed: From the beginning
READ: Harrisburg tire shop owner slaps McFarland apartments, PennDOT contractors with lawsuit