New Yorkers Consider Buildings’ Safety After Tuesday's Collapse of Lower Manhattan Parking Garage

New Yorkers Consider Buildings’ Safety After Tuesday's Collapse of Lower Manhattan Parking Garage

by Yehudit Garmaise

In the days after the parking garage in Lower Manhattan tragically collapsed on Tuesday, while bustling around the city, New Yorkers are wondering about the safety of the buildings in which they live, work, and park. 

Linda DG, for instance, who worked in Lower Manhattan for 18 years, told BoroPark24 that she “assumed all the buildings were safe and inspected, without really thinking about it. “I should have known better.” 

In Boro Park, Berel Deutsch said that “some old buildings feel unsafe and potentially scary,” but Zalmen N. said he wasn’t worried because most of the buildings in Boro Park “are not that old and seem safe.” 

When buildings’ structures are “overloaded, fatigued, and cracked,” they are at risk of collapsing, Brian Bramel, a Maryland-based structural engineer, told Gothamist. “When corrosion eats up the rebar, then you no longer have this tension capacity…and the load of the cars can cause the structure to fail.” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg launched an investigation to determine the cause of yesterday’s disaster, but Bramel pointed out, “We rarely figure out the exact cause” of buildings’ collapses.

According to the records of the collapsed parking garage, no complaints were recorded since 2014.

Tuesday's collapse came a little more than a month after the year’s first known death of a construction worker when a wall came down at a demolition site on the second floor at 126 Lafayette St. on March 7. 

Three other construction workers were severely injured at that site in Soho at which the contractor had previously received several violations from safety issues found during an inspection. 

In 2021, a man died after an elevator collapsed on top of him at a construction site in the Bronx, and closer to home in Sunset Park, on Dec. 28, 2020, a construction worker died after a 10-foot brick wall fell on top of a construction worker at 454 42nd. St. 

Several months after a broken facade on a Midtown building, which had been previously cited for violating repair requirements, killed a 60-year-old architect on Dec. 17, 2019, the architect’s husband filed a lawsuit against the building’s owners.

“Owners receive minuscule fines that they are able to pay off as a way to avoid making actual repairs,” the family’s attorney told Gothamist in 2020. “This practice is an open secret in the New York real estate community.” 

In August 2019, when cinder blocks and sheet metal crushed and tragically killed construction worker Segundo Manuel Herrera at 94 E. 208th St. in the Bronx, prosecutors accused the site’s three contractors of disregarding safety precautions: including lying to get permits.

“A death trap waiting to happen," is what Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark called the construction site after its three contractors were arrested on the charges of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.

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