Bronx Building Collapse Puts Spotlight on NYC’s Aging Buildings

Bronx Building Collapse Puts Spotlight on NYC’s Aging Buildings

C.G. Hoffman

A frightening building facade collapse in the Bronx has put the spotlight on the thousands of aging buildings in NYC, with lawmakers at odds on the best ways to prevent future disasters. The collapse, in which the facade of a corner of the building tumbled down to the street, left a few apartments completely exposed, and walls split down the middle. 

Lawmakers, buildings experts and ordinary New Yorkers worry about the future of New York’s older structures, and are calling on the city to increase staff and inspections from the Department of Buildings while imposing stiffer penalties on owners who fail to comply with necessary repairs and inspections.

Thankfully, there were no fatalities in the Bronx building collapse, but the disaster left 153 residents across 44 apartments homeless. The cause of the collapse is still unknown. With calls to beef up their staff coming at a time of staffing shortages while facing future budget cuts, Department of Buildings officials are looking to impose tougher penalties with non compliant building owners.

Such disasters are very rare, even in a city that has over 30,000 buildings that are considered old. Cracks in the facade of the Bronx building were seen before the collapse, and an architect hired by the owner in 2020 determined that the building had “unsafe” facade problems. However, an engineer was doubtful that the collapse was caused by a crumbling facade, rather believing it to stem from structural problems.

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