The building at the corner of Court and Union streets in Carroll Gardens came crashing down at around 4:30 p.m. in the tony neighborhood.
Officials said that the building – home to Body Elite Gym for the past 36 years – was vacant at the time of the collapse.
But the man who was injured was inside the building’s second-floor and was able to escape with minor injuries, FDNY officials said. He was taken to NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, sources said.
The NYPD was seen using K9 units to search the wreckage in the immediate aftermath of the collapse. FDNY and Department of Buildings crews will be sifting through the rubble overnight in search of any other potential victims, FDNY Fire Operations Chief Thomas Richardson said at a Wednesday night press briefing.
Carroll Gardens resident Vincenza Rizzuto, 35, who was nearby at a traffic light on Carroll and Court streets, said she heard the collapse. “It was a huge boom and then people screamed and smoke was all over,” Rizzuto said, adding, “It felt like the ground shook.”
“It was the loudest boom or bang I ever heard,” said Rizzuto, who quickly called 911. It almost sounded like something exploded.” The building had been under construction and scaffolding had been up on the Union Street side.
A partial stop work order was issued at the building on June 10 for a construction violation related to three construction workers involved in masonry demolition, according to the city’s Department of Buildings.
City records say that a roughly 20-foot by 15-foot masonry brick wall had been “dangerously bulging over public sidewalk. No protection provided.”Timothy Hogan, DOB’s Deputy Commissioner of Enforcement, said Wednesday night the agency was still working to determine the cause of collapse.
But Hogan noted “that there were some issues with the facade.” There was a bulge in the exterior wall and that was one of the things that they were here about the stop-work order, because of the way they were performing the work,” Hogan said.
Hogan said the remains of the building will be demolished. Robert Alimena, 58, who has owned the gym since it opened, told The Post that the building’s landlord was having cosmetic brick and stucco work done on the exterior of the building.
“There was nobody in the building,” Alimena said, noting that the gym – which takes up all three floors of the building – had been closed due to the coronavirus crisis. Alimena said he was in “total shock” by the collapse, which left the building looking like a fallen house of cards.
“I don’t even know what to say. I’m looking at the pictures and I’m like, ‘wow,’” said the longtime gym owner. “The good news is as far as we know, no one was in the building, so my people are good,” Alimena said. “So they’re trying to determine at this point whether anyone was walking by the building when this came down.”
Alimena noted that the building is designated as a “factory building” and was “structured for the right amount of weight.” He said the “heaviest” gym equipment was on the building’s lower floor and “not on the upper levels, so that’s why we’re confused here because there really wasn’t a lot of heavy weight in the gym.”
“As far as I’m concerned, it looks like I have a complete loss here. I don’t think we’re ever going to rebuild,” said Alimena. One witness, Lisa Chiesa, said the collapse reminded her of the 9/11 terror attacks.
“When I came out of the house it was all black powder coming my way. Of course I just ran inside,” said Chiesa, 63.
Liz DiMartino, who owns Brownstone Real Estate, across the street from the building said, “We just heard a rumble” as the building was coming down.
“There was really no warning. Everything just kind of whited out for a few minutes and then the building was down,” she said.
DiMartino added, “I’m just thanking God the gym was closed.” One neighborhood resident said that the Union Street side of the building had been “bulging out for years.” “It was plainly visible when you were on the sidewalk,” said Robert Anthony.
City inspectors cited the structure for “major cracks on the exterior wall” in 2019 and “a horizontal crack and bulge” on the side of the building in 2006, Department of Buildings records show.
The building is owned by Union & Court Realty Corp, which lists Ki Hyo Park as their chief executive officer, public records show. Park did not immediately return 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 rocked by a freak building collapse in 2012 when the exterior wall of a four-story brownstone on Carroll Street fell down.