Bronx DA Looks into Building Collapse That Made Dozens Homeless

( – On November 3, a Department of Buildings (DOB) inspector in New York issued a violation for 1915 Billingsley Terrace — a seven-story building — citing structural concerns. The notice said the expert saw “deteriorated and broken mudsills” that didn’t properly support the structure. According to the inspector, those violations could “compromise the structural stability” of either the scaffolding or the building itself — the citation didn’t make that point clear. However, a little more than a month later, part of the building did collapse and now investigators are trying to figure out why.

What happened?

On December 11, an entire corner of the residential apartment building and the scaffolding crumbled to the street down below. Multiple videos captured the incident showing people running for their lives as the materials rained down, exposing the corner apartments within. One of the videos from a car parked outside the ground-floor deli captured debris coming down and nearly crushing a nearby vehicle. The shop was destroyed.

The Fire Department of New York (FDNY) said they didn’t find anyone trapped under the rubble — “miraculously.” The department Commissioner, Laura Kavanagh, said, “it could have been so much worse.” Emergency crews spent hours sifting through the wreckage looking for possible victims. The FDNY posted drone footage of the clean-up, calling the incident an “absolute disaster.” According to NBC News New York, two people did sustain some minor injuries.

Warnings and Next Steps

Experts spent the next day trying to determine whether the rest of the building needed to come down or if the remaining portions were structurally sound. News media reported that the city would tear down the rest of the collapsed corner, but it was unclear when that would occur.

According to the BOD, the structure houses almost 50 apartments. Sadly, the partial collapse left almost 140 people homeless, with the majority of their belongings left inside. According to resident Julio Almonte, many of the tenants have complained to the landlord about the state of the building, but they did nothing to fix the problems. The commissioner confirmed that drawings showing the work needed on the residential structure showed there were known issues on the corner that collapsed. DOB Commissioner Jimmy Oddo stated the last report submitted to the department in early 2021 showed unsafe façade conditions, which does not equal an “unsafe building.”

The Bronx District Attorney’s Office said it was working with the FDNY and the DOB on the investigation, saying it also plans to look into the building’s owner.

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