Partial building collapse in Harlem injures 1 person, officials say

Partial building collapse in Harlem injures 1 person, officials say
The building had numerous complaints related to its instability, DOB records show.

The building had numerous complaints related to its instability, DOB records show.

A partial building collapse in Harlem injured one person late Thursday morning, officials said.

The back of the building, located at 316 W. 135th St. near Frederick Douglass Boulevard, collapsed around 11:50 a.m., officials said. No one was in the building at the time, according to fire officials.

One person who was leaving a nearby parking lot on a motorcycle suffered a minor injury, according to FDNY Deputy Assistant Chief Joseph Woznica. The property manager reported to city officials that a person had become trapped under the rubble but they were able to pull the victim out, according to Department of Building records.

Emergency responders with the NYPD and FDNY searched the rubble using K-9s and drones to make sure no one else was trapped under the rubble, Woznica added. 

The building was in the process of being demolished when the rear portion collapsed unexpectedly, officials said.
The building was in the process of being demolished when the rear portion collapsed unexpectedly, officials said. Photo Credit: Louis Lanzano/Louis Lanzano

The building appeared unstable and was leaning for several months before the collapse, according to numerous complaints filed to the Department of Buildings. Bricks were reportedly falling from the building on Sept. 20, according to DOB records. A day later, someone called the agency to report a concern of cracks in the exterior walls.

"Caller states that building looks very unstable and leaning," the complaint reads. "There are cracks in the exterior and it has been like that for a while. A parking lot is right next door."

The three-story building appears to have housed the Mount Ararat Church at one point but it was under construction when the partial collapse occurred.

The rear portion of the building on West 135th Street collapsed around 11:50 a.m., officials said.
The rear portion of the building on West 135th Street collapsed around 11:50 a.m., officials said. Photo Credit: Louis Lanzano/Louis Lanzano

DOB records show the building is owned by the church but the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development had applied for a permit to demolish it. The application was approved in June and a permit was issued on Nov. 9, per the records.

A spokesman for HPD said the agency does not own the building but coordinated with a contractor for the demolition, which was scheduled for Thursday. During the demolition process, part of the rear wall collapsed, per the agency. 

Department of Buildings inspectors issued partial vacate orders for the backyards of neighboring buildings located at 300 W. 135th St. and 488-490 St. Nicholas Ave., but no residents were displaced, an agency spokesman said. The entrance to an underground parking garage next door was also issued a partial vacate order.

Under the supervision of a professional engineer, the demolition of the building will continue Friday and into the weekend, the DOB spokesman said. The partial vacate orders are expected to be lifted once the building is brought down to a safe height.

DOB inspectors, along with representatives with HPD, will be closely monitoring the demolition.

Lauren Cook