Brooklyn building collapses in violent collapse


A three-story building in Brooklyn that housed a gymnasium collapsed Wednesday afternoon, leaving one person injured and a huge pile of rubble and debris strewn across the street.

The building at the corner of Court and Union streets in Carroll Gardens collapsed around 4:30 pm in the tony neighborhood.

Authorities said the building, home to the Body Elite Gym for the past 36 years, was empty at the time of the collapse.

But the man who was injured was inside the second floor of the building and was able to escape with minor injuries, FDNY officials said.

He was taken to the NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, the sources said.

The NYPD was seen using K9 units to search the wreckage immediately after the collapse.

FDNY and Building Department teams will examine the debris overnight for other possible victims, FDNY Chief Fire Operations Officer Thomas Richardson said at a press conference Wednesday night.

Vincenza Rizzuto, 35, of Carroll Gardens, who was near a traffic light at Carroll and Court streets, said he heard the collapse.

“It was a big boom and then people screamed and the smoke was over,” said Rizzuto, adding: “It felt like the ground was shaking.”

“It was the loudest bang or explosion I’ve ever heard,” said Rizzuto, who quickly called 911. It almost sounded like something was exploding. “

The building had been under construction and the scaffolding was on the Union Street side.

On June 10, a partial stop order was issued at the building for a construction violation related to three construction workers involved in the demolition of masonry, according to the city’s Department of Buildings.

City records say a masonry brick wall about 20 feet by 15 feet had been “dangerously bulky on the public sidewalk.” No protection is provided. ”

Timothy Hogan, DOB’s Deputy Compliance Commissioner, said Wednesday night that the agency was still working to determine the cause of the collapse.

But Hogan noted “that there were some problems with the facade.”

“There was a bump on the outside wall and that was one of the things that were here about the order to stop the job, because of the way they did the job,” Hogan said.

Hogan said the remains of the building will be demolished.

Robert Alimena, 58, the gym’s owner since its opening, told The Post that the building’s owner was doing cosmetic brick and stucco work on the exterior of the building.

“There was no one in the building,” said Alimena, noting that the gym, which occupies all three floors of the building, had been closed due to the coronavirus crisis.

Alimena said she was in “total shock” at the collapse, which left the building like a fallen house of cards.

“I don’t even know what to say. I’m looking at the photos and I’m like ‘wow,’ ”said the longtime gym owner.

“The good news is that, as far as we know, there was no one in the building, so my people are good,” said Alimena. “So they are trying to determine right now if someone was walking through the building when it collapsed.”

Alimena noted that the building is designated a “factory building” and was “structured for the correct amount of weight.”

He said the “heaviest” gym equipment was on the bottom floor of the building and “not on the upper levels, so that’s why we’re confused here because there really wasn’t much heavy weight in the gym.”

“As far as I’m concerned, it seems like I have a complete loss here. I think we will never rebuild, “said Alimena.

A witness, Lisa Chiesa, said the collapse reminded her of the September 11 terror attacks.

“When I left the house, everything was black powder on my way. Of course, I just ran inside, ”said Chiesa, 63.

Liz DiMartino, owner of Brownstone Real Estate, across the street from the building, said, “We just heard a noise” when the building collapsed.

“There really was no warning. Everything was blank for a few minutes and then the building collapsed, “he said.

DiMartino added: “I’m just thanking God that the gym was closed.”

A resident of the neighborhood said the side of the Union Street building had been “bulging for years.”

“It was clearly visible when you were on the sidewalk,” said Robert Anthony.

City inspectors cited the structure as “major cracks in the exterior wall” in 2019 and “a horizontal crack and bulge” on the side of the building in 2006, records from the Department of Buildings show.

The building is owned by Union & Court Realty Corp, which lists Ki Hyo Park as its CEO, public records show. Park did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s outgoing spokeswoman Freddi Goldstein said the mayor has been briefed on the situation.

Carroll Gardens was previously shaken by a building collapse in 2012 when the exterior wall of a four-story stone house on Carroll Street fell.

Larry Celona’s Additional Reports

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