Building Collapses at New York City Construction Site

By Marcus Franklin | May 1, 2009

A five-story building collapsed at a lower Manhattan construction site on Thursday, but fire officials said it appeared no one was inside.

Emergency crews with a dog were sifting through the building’s rubble and were going through a neighboring building as a precaution.

Lewis Largent, who lives directly across the street, was looking out the window at 6:15 a.m. when “the bricks started trickling off the top corner. I was thinking was it raining or something. Then within 10 seconds it just all came down like a wave or an avalanche.”

Inspectors with the Buildings Department were at the scene, about seven blocks north of the World Trade Center site.

It appeared the front half of the building was sheared off in the collapse, and interior floors were visible from the street. Mounds of bricks were on the ground, and pieces of wood were hanging from what remained of the structure. A car on the street was covered in rubble.

The collapse occurred early Thursday, before the normally busy flow of pedestrians and traffic.

The neighborhood is part of an officially designated historic district in the Tribeca section of Manhattan.

A neighborhood businessman said he was worried about a homeless man who often slept outside the building.

Kody Tokar, who owns an elevator company across the street, arrived about 45 minutes after the collapse.

He said the homeless man was “”always sleeping there,” under scaffolding in front of the building.

Tokar said he saw bricks dropping off the building on Wednesday, and also noticed some cracks.

He and others who work in the neighborhood had joked in the past that they didn’t want to park there. “The building looked like it was giong to fall for a while.”

He said the building had been empty for several years. He said something was being built next door, and there was excavation in that lot.

But Lisa Schiller, a 20-year resident of the neighborhood, said she was surprised that the collapse occurred there.

“We’re a little freaked out about it,” Schiller said when she came out for her morning walk and saw the commotion.

Topics New York Training Development Construction

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