A four-story building housing the Vesper bar collapsed yesterday afternoon, leaving at least 14 people homeless, The Local reports.
No one was seriously hurt in the collapse, thanks in large part to the initial slow pace of the incident. According to residents who were in the area at the time, the collapse began with “a few bricks falling from the building.” Apparently, this gave most residents ample time to escape.
In a detail that will be of interest to New York construction accident lawyers, the New York City Department of Buildings found several violations, including several cracks in the interior and exterior of the building, during a May 1, 2009 inspection. A summary of these violations can be found at the NYC.gov website.
Photographer Geralyn Shukwit has posted a gallery of 55 photos of the collapse.
The building’s owner, William Sang, told reporters that the large crack on the side of his building had existed for ten years, that the Department of Buildings indicated his building was fit for residence and that work was underway to repair the crack. In some pictures of the collapse a scaffold can be seen on the eastern side of the building, giving credence to Mr. Sang’s statements.
The Department of Buildings has issued vacate orders for six buildings on the block. At least one, 491 Myrtle, will likely be demolished due to damage from the collapse.
For New York construction accident lawyers, the question here must be how the Department of Buildings misjudged the danger the building’s flaws posed. It seems that an inspection less than two months before such a serious incident ought to have discovered some danger and led to swift action.
The Department of Buildings may have followed its best protocols and done everything it could to prevent this collapse. But in this instance, having performed such a recent inspection, the Department of Buildings will have to do some explaining.
[ The Local via Curbed]