Neighbors of a Brooklyn gym are lucky to be alive after the closed, three story establishment suddenly collapsed Wednesday afternoon.
The three-story structure at the corner of Court and Union streets fell in on itself around 4:40 pm, police officials said.
The Body Elite Gym has been closed since the Covid-19 pandemic began and employees of the gym were standing across the street after the collapse.
“It’s funny how this Covid-19 turned into something good,” one employee who wouldnt give his name said. “Thank god nobody was in there”
EMS officials said one man received minor injuries when the building collapsed, but he was not considered serious and was seen being treated nearby. It was later revealed by some officials that the man was inside the building and may have rode the crash down from the second floor.
Jackie Munoz, a 6-year cashier at the neighboring Park Health Food store next to the Body Elite.
“We just felt like the whole building moving, and then the sounds of the building collapsing, very scary, you couldn’t see anything,” Munoz said. A woman was screaming that her daughter was out there, and we reached out to get her, but she pushed me out of the way. We had no warning.”
Another employee at the health food store said he barely escaped the tumbling structure while he was taking out the garbage.
“I don’t know how I made it,” said the man covered in debris, who gave his name only as Bob. “I was taking out my trash when all of a sudden I see this thing and I run into the middle of the street and I fell in the middle of the street.”
Marco Scirico, an employee of Enoteca on Court, a restaurant across the street, had just finished serving customers sitting in the street only moments before the collapse.
“I heard the rumble and came running out and the whole street was filled with dust – you couldn’t see a thing,” he said. “And we just finished serving someone outside. We didn’t know if anyone was under there.”
Scores of firefighters began combing the wreckage immediately after the collapse, searching for possible victims that may have been caught in the debris. An NYPD police cadaver dog named Monty was put to work, searching through the bricks and metal for anyone who may have been trapped.
A video posted onto the crime-reporting app, the Citizen App, shows an ambulance arriving and paramedics standing next to a stretcher, but a police spokeswoman said the building was “believed to be unoccupied at the time.” It was later confirmed that the building was unoccupied due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Body Elite Gym, boasts four floors of exercise equipment in the building, according to its website. The Fire Department is also investigating the structure of the building next door, a police officer on the scene said. A woman who was walking nearby, noticed a wall buckling and provided a photo.
The employees of the gym said there was no warning that the building was in any danger, but nobody has been working in the building since the pandemic began.
In June the building’s owner received a partial stop work order from the Department of Buildings on June 10 after construction workers left a masonry brick wall dangerously bulging above the sidewalk without protection, according to the agency.
In August 2019, DOB inspectors also found structural cracks, a wall and drain pipe bulging out by six inches, and a cornice in disrepair, after someone alerted officials saying the building had “very dangerous conditions,” according to the agency’s records.
On its Facebook page, the gym — likely in reference to COVID-19 restrictions — recently posted a picture about the muscle palace’s health benefits saying, “Gyms are SAFE!”
A June 12 Facebook post shows that the gym was having construction workers do an “exterior makeover” on its Union Street side of the building.
“Still working and constantly updating. We are getting an exterior makeover. Doing all the things we haven’t had the chance to do and making the most out of our downtime,” the post read.
The gyms owner refused to comment for this story.
Additional reporting by Todd Maisel and Kevin Duggan. This is a developing story, check back for updates. This story first appeared on brooklynpaper.com.