The incident occurred on July 1, 2020, at the corner of Court and Union St. The structure totally collapsed at around 5 p.m. (local time) sending rubble into the streets. Fortunately, there were no casualties associated with the failure, however, one person that passed by the site at that time, suffered minor injuries and was later treated by emergency staff.
According to witnesses, the building came crashing down suddenly and quickly (in less than 30 seconds). "All of a sudden I saw something, the building coming down and after that, I don’t know what happened. I run in the middle of the street," Bob Krissnanand, a local working in a nearby store, explains.
Nearby buildings were not affected by the failure and seem to be undamaged but the dust and debris devastated the entire block. “The dust and smoke were as high as the building. The street was covered in dust. Everything was covered,” Roberto Roquel who works at a nearby restaurant, stated.
The building used to be a gym center but, fortunately, it was unoccupied at the time of the failure, due to the COVID-19 restriction measures.
The NY Fire Department rushed at the scene to handle the situation.
The causes of the structural failure are currently under investigation. The NYC Department of Buildings had pointed out structural flaws (large cracks throughout the structure) and fined the owner of the building 8 times since 2005.
The last warning was issued just 21 days before the failure when building inspectors detected 3 large fissures and a bulge on a wall of the building. They charged the owner with a $5,000 fine which was not paid, according to officials. The owner, Kihyo Park, has still made no comments on the incident. “We do know that there were some issues with the façade. There was a bulge in the exterior wall..." Timothy Hogan, deputy commissioner of enforcement for the NY Department of Building, said.
The Department mentioned that there have been numerous complaints about the integrity of the building since the 1990s.
Footage from the scene (click the video below to watch) indicate that the roof of the building moved to the side while its floors slid in a diagonal direction during the failure.
Robert Alimena, the owner of the gym facility, claimed that some repair works had initiated in an effort to fix the structural deficiencies of the building. “I’m just shaking like crazy. The building is so thick, like five or six bricks thick, so I cannot imagine what would actually trigger this chain reaction,” Mr. Alimena, said.
Demolition works for the building began the day after the collapse.