By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,621)
The former Lovejoy’s Barber Shop, 15 Washington Avenue, is finally nothing more than a pile of rubble. That’s after a frontloader tore down what had become a “bum squat” – a place where many homeless found a place to live, often ignored by city officials – yesterday morning.
Earlier this month, mhn reported this property has for years been a source of safety concerns for neighbors. On June 3, 2013, the property, owned by Alex Altman, underwent an inspection by the Department of Planning & Urban Development. It was found back then to be in violation of city code. On June 4th, Janine Kaserman, Community Services Coordinator, filed a report with the City’s Inspections Division expressing concern about the property for “safety” reasons. On August 1st, mhn reported on a transient who’d been living in the small, hexagonal structure for several days, undisturbed. In the meantime, mhn had contacted city officials to determine the status of the recommended demolition of the building. We are working on it was the usual response. Until yesterday morning when it started to come down.
James Griffin, a neighbor of the former barber shop said he was relieved to see the structure demolished. “I’m tired of seeing people urinate behind the building. I’m tired of everything else that goes on back there. I’m tired of making numerous phone calls to city council members who did nothing. This has been going for more than the 13 years since we’ve lived here,” he said, disgusted with the lack of response from city officials. Altman e-mailed Griffin in advance to let him know the building was to be demolished.
Altman purchased the former dry cleaning business across Washington Avenue from the barber shop to develop it into an upscale Bingas Wingas. Those plans never materialized. The barber shop property was to have been a parking lot for the planned business.
Coincidentally, Harold Lovejoy, 76, who ran the business there for 56 years, died on November 15, 2013. Lovejoy served in the US Navy during World War II. For years he gave haircuts to the inmates of the Cumberland County Jail. He was a resident of Kennedy Park.