On Tuesday, April 18, 2023, the upper levels of a five-story parking garage in Lower Manhattan collapsed, tragically killing 59-year-old Willis Moore, the parking garage manager, and injuring at least five others.
The parking garage, located at 57 Ann Street in the Financial District, is owned by Enterprise Ann Parking, LLC. At around 4:15 pm, the upper levels collapsed into the basement in what sounded like an “explosion,” a witness told the New York Post.
The six people accounted for were all parking garage workers on duty at the time. The fire department is still looking to ensure no one else is trapped. According to FDNY chief John Esposito, rescue operations were hazardous, as the building started to crumble while the firefighters were inside. As a result, the first responders had to retreat, and the department sent drones and a robotic dog to analyze the scene and check for people still trapped in cars or underneath the rubble.
The Department of Buildings (DOB) arrived shortly after the incident. According to DOB, the garage had no recent violations. It had an active permit for electrical work. Despite the lack of recent breaches, the Eyewitness News team found four violations from years ago that are still open. One violation, dating back to 2003, was marked “hazardous” in severity level. An application was filed in 2010, indicating the violation was corrected. One thing that is worthy of mention is these unaddressed, archaic violations. Even from twenty years ago, the notion that some violations remain open underscores how understaffed investigative agencies like the DOB and OSHA are. It is impossible to expect agencies like this to be proactive and attack problems before they surface, given how much they struggle to keep qualified personnel.
It is unclear what caused the pancake collapse of the garage. DOB personnel are continuing efforts in this investigation. However, FDNY stated that given the instability of the building, the study is expected to be a prolonged operation. As part of the investigation, DOB Acting Commissioner Kazimir Vilenchik said the organization will “review and research property files to try to understand the history of the building, certificate of occupancy and lots of records.” One thing they may evaluate is whether the ongoing electrical work contributed to the instability of the building. This will depend on the nature of the construction/electrical work being performed. Demolition is frequently a culprit in identifying the cause of a structural collapse, but it is unclear if demolition was involved in the Ann Street collapse.
While building collapses are rare and unexpected, when they do happen, the results are often catastrophic, as evidenced by this incident. There are multiple reasons why a building may collapse, including but not limited to degenerative conditions that the landlord or property managers failed to fix, improper building design or construction, foundation issues, and overloading the structure beyond its designed capacity.
The post Lower Manhattan Parking Lot Collapse: One Dead, Multiple Injured first appeared on Block O’Toole & Murphy.