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Third Street Row Homes Have Structural Issues; One Property Declared Unfit for Habitation/Occupancy

IMG_6876THIRD STREET ROW HOMES, starting on the right the addresses are 209, 211, 213, and 215. The 211 property has been declared unsafe for habitation, 213  is also empty; people are living in 209 and 215. According to Paul Clarke the owner of 211, the problem with the brick facade started when a contractor was doing work on 213 the adjoining property. (CNBNews photo)

 

WILLIAM E. CLEARY SR. | CNBNews

Dorothy Heade | CNBNews Contributor

GLOUCESTER CITY, NJ (September 24, 2021)--A row of  Third Street homes, addresses 209, 211, 213, and 215, could be in danger of collapse because the facade at 211 Third has cracked. The homes in the middle, address 211 and 213, are presently empty. The 211 property has been declared unfit for habitants. 

 

Dan Seltzer the tenant at 209 said he is afraid the entire row will fall. "The ceiling in my upstairs bathroom has developed a crack in recent weeks. He said the facade problem with 211 started about a year ago. The wooden brace has been there ever since. When the people moved out of  211 they left food in the refrigerator. Once the electricity was turned off the food started to rot. The smell was horrible. A hazmat team had to wear an oxygen mask to clean it. We had to deal with the roaches and the smell for days."

 

The image below of 211 Third Street shows how far the facade has extended outward.

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CNBNews photo

An OPRA request to Vanessa Parent, custodian of city records, revealed the property owner, Paul Clarke, founder of Third Street Cooperative, LLC, 415 White Horse Pike, Audubon received a warning from the Housing Office on April 6, 2021, stating the property was unsafe. Housing employee Edward Gorman did the inspection. Clarke was given 14 days or until April 20 to either demolish the dwelling or repair it. On August 5, 2021, the same order was issued.  Third Street Cooperative was given 14 days or to August 19 to comply or face a fine of $2,000 a week.

 

Clarke also had the option of filing an appeal with the Construction Board of Appeals in Camden City.

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Above is the April 6, 2021 order from the Housing Office to Third Street Cooperative (TSC) giving them 14 days to either make the repairs or demolish the property. A  second notice was sent to TSC in August. It is not known if the company paid any fines for not complying with the orders. Despite repeated attempts to the Housing Office for an explanation we have received no response. (click on image to enlarge) 

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The September 7 CNBNews OPRA request asked for all documents about 211 Third Street for the past three years. None of the documents received mentioned Clarke paying any fines nor did we receive any documents explaining why the property was allowed to remain in an unsafe manner for nearly five months. 

 

Earlier this week Bill Ackley, the head of the Housing Office, and employee Edward Gorman were contacted by email and phone for an explanation. As of this date, we haven't received a response to our request.

 

We did speak with Mr. Clarke on Wednesday who was courteous enough to return our call. Clarke lives in California. A former resident of Gloucester City he graduated from Gloucester High School and furthered his education at Camden County College

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He didn't know the answer to several of our questions and stated midway through the interview,  "I don't manage these properties, Bill. I have a managing company that does that for me. Some of these properties I haven't seen in years if ever. All these questions you are asking I can't help you with. I am sorry.  I am not the right person to talk to. And, I don't know who the right person would be for you to contact to answer your questions. I am not involved with the day-to-day operations. "

Paul Clarke (Linken photo). Research revealed he has homes in California, New York City, Jersey City

Asked about his connection with Richard Dolson, who is mentioned in a letter to the Housing Office that was supposedly signed by him Clarke said,   "All I know about him is that he is a local real estate agent. As for that letter, I am assuming one of my representatives sent it on my behalf. "

"I called you back just because I know your family and thought I could help you."

When asked who he knew in the Cleary family he said, "I am assuming you are married to *Mrs. Cleary who worked at Gloucester High School when I was in school 30 or 40 years ago. I am not trying to be invasive but I just don't know the answers to the questions you are asking. It would take me hours to go through four layers of papers to find out who is responsible for managing this property. I do know that there was construction work done on the 213 property that is connected to 211 Third. And because of that construction, the facade started to crack. I know that the construction company braced the house during the time they were working on it. I know this because I saw documents from the insurance company about this problem. I know the city was monitoring this situation to make sure it is safe for all tenants in that row. The construction company, I believe is KRK, that my company hired will be fixing the problem and will resurface the front of it. Other than that I don't have any specific answers. 

Clarke, states on his Linken page that he is a real estate developer who focuses on inner-city residential rehabilitation. "Our aim is to empower single mothers and families to take back control of their lives through affordable homeownership or rental opportunities.

*EDITOR'S NOTE: Shirley Cleary, who worked at the city high school was married to my brother George who died in December 2014 Shirley is retired. 

 

Third Street Cooperative, LLC, is an NJ Domestic Limited-Liability Company filed with the state of NJ on July 1, 2015. The company's file number is listed as 0600422314.

A search of the Camden County Property Records revealed that Clarke owns several properties in Gloucester City. They include but are not limited to the following:

232 Orange St. purchased with damage - noted on mortgage and deed.  $12,000. To Paul Clarke (PC) from Fannie Mae by Power of Attorney. His address at the time was a Penthouse, NYC. Deed dated 10/27/2015. Received 2/26/2016.   From PC to Third Street Cooperative (TSC) 6/28/2019 for $1.  PC's address was Malibu, CA, TSC's address was Audubon, NJ. 

 

240 South Third St. purchased with a mortgage from Navy Federal Credit Union $35,200 dated 8/8/2014.  Today Tara Clarke lists this address as her primary residence. The prior address was 400 unit block of  Bergen St. before that was 600 unit block of N 32nd Sr. Camden. Discharge of mortgage 11/5/2015.  Property subject to the lien. 7/26/2019 from PC to TSC $1  PC is now living in Malibu, CA.

 

211 South Third Street  From Shane Helm Kennedy Blvd Bellmawr to Clarke (same NYC address,)  Price $30,490 with damage,  Deed date 12/01/2015.  Deed exempt from Realty Transfer Fee.  Mortgage $33,000 with damage dated 10/14/2015.  The company is Capital Development from Cherry Hill.  Clarke is still in NYC.  Mortgage canceled 3/17/2016.  In August 2019 it was transferred from Clarke to TSC for $1. 

 

148 Burlington St. From CR Properties LLC (White Plains, NY,) to PC (NYC)  $14,000 with damage.  Special Warranty Deed.  Final Tax lien on CR 5/17/2015.  At a 7/06/2016 meeting the deed was amended to say "I will keep the property in good repair, neither damaging nor abandoning it.  I will allow the lender to inspect the property upon reasonable notice."  In August 2019 the property was transferred from Clarke to TSC $1.

 

Mr. Clarke owns other properties in Gloucester City besides those mentioned above, according to the website NJ Parcels…http://www.njparcels.com/

 

He pays the city an estimated $25,218 in taxes annually for those nine properties.

 

211 Third St costs THIRD STREET COOPERATIVE LLC $1,788.84 annually in taxes.

237 Third St costs THIRD STREET COOPERATIVE LLC $3,317.72 annually in taxes.

240 Third St costs THIRD STREET COOPERATIVE LLC $3,401.43 annually in taxes.

231 S Broadway costs THIRD STREET COOPERATIVE LLC $3,251.63 annually in taxes.

216 Cumberland St costs THIRD STREET COOPERATIVE LLC $2,586.32 annually in taxes.

232 Orange St costs THIRD STREET COOPERATIVE LLC $2,621.57 annually in taxes.

338 Morris St costs THIRD STREET COOPERATIVE LLC $3,264.85 annually in taxes.

146 S Burlington St costs THIRD STREET COOPERATIVE LLC $2,163.35 annually in taxes.

148 S Burlington St costs THIRD STREET COOPERATIVE LLC $2,449.74 annually in taxes.

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211 THIRD STREET UNSAFE STRUCTURE--This notice issued on August 5 by Edward Gorman Construction Official gives the owner 14 days to either repair or demolish the property. 

BELOW: Third Street Cooperative responds to the Housing Office the signature at the bottom of the letter is Paul Clarke, who said in an interview that one of his employees signed his name to it because he lives in California. (click to enlarge)

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BELOW: NV Engineering president Nicholas Vaspoll gives his opinion about the properties. He writes, "Based on our site visit and our professional opinion, the brick facade at 211 Third Street was most likely impacted by the facade work at 213 Third Street due to an incorrectly installed lintel at the opening between the two residences. 

Our research revealed 211 Third was built in 1900.

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