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Car remains on tire shop roof 135 days after wall collapse in Harrisburg

HARRISBURG — More than four months after a wall collapsed near the Mulberry Street Bridge in Harrisburg, the debris remains untouched, including an abandoned car that fell onto a tire shop below.

Meanwhile, a codes violation appeal hearing scheduled for last week was pushed back to October because the Housing Board of Appeals couldn’t muster a quorum. The city had issued the codes violation in July against the owner of the McFarland apartments, Isaac Dohany, of Lakewood, N.J, to force the start of cleanup at the site. Instead, Dohany appealed and denied owning the wall that collapsed on May 5.

The wall propped up the parking lot for The McFarland apartments.

The exposed dirt has remained exposed for 135 days. It collapses just a little bit further with each downpour, said Howard Henry, who owns Howard Tire and Auto just below the wall. He’s fearful that winter weather could wreak even more havoc with his warehouse exposed through the broken roof.

The car that fell onto his roof has gradually inched its way into the back of his warehouse, where it now nearly touches his floor.

“It’s moved down off that hill into my building four feet,” since the collapse, Henry said Friday. “Every time it rains, it washes debris inside.”
The portion of Howard’s building that is damaged is his back warehouse. The rest of his building was not damaged and he remains open for business.

But many of his customers mistakenly believe his shop is closed, he said.

“That’s been the problem,” he said. “Most everybody stopped coming because they heard about the condemnation and thought we were closed. So it just crushed us.”

Although Howard’s warehouse was condemned along with a portion of The McFarland apartments, Howard has stabilized his warehouse to the satisfaction of the city engineer. He has done all the remediation work he can until someone starts moving the debris that is pressing against his warehouse, he said.

To try to bring some of his customers back, he is planning a television ad to begin running in October. In the ad, (See video with this article) he plays off the wall collapse by opening with a crumbling brick wall.

“When that wall fell,” Henry says, “so did our prices.”

The ad ends with Howard telling customers, “Only the wall fell. We still stand.”

Henry is working with his insurance company to cover some of his losses. He said he has lost $160,000 in sales alone.

The cleanup from the collapse will likely cost millions, which is why nearby property owners are distancing themselves from it. Dohany denies owning the wall as does PennDOT, which owns the nearby Mulberry Street Bridge. The wall was also connected to the bridge.

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