On Wednesday, a three-story building housing a gym collapsed in Carroll Gardens. No one was seriously injured as a result, but it has since come out that the Department of Buildings (DOB) issued multiple violations and fines against the property owner in recent years for multiple cracks and bulges throughout the property.
The building located at 348 Court Street, which used to house Body Elite Gym, collapsed around 4:40 p.m. yesterday. Sara Pekow, a resident in the neighborhood, said she witnessed the collapse, telling Gothamist, "I just went out of my building to go to the car and saw the building collapse and a big storm of dust rise in its place."
In an official statement, Body Elite Gym said: "As tenants of 348 Court Street for 36 years the space we called home suddenly came crashing down in a pool of devastation. We have been devoted to the community we served. Words can't describe the overwhelming shock. We are extremely grateful that the gym was closed due to COVID and no members were inside. Thank you everyone for all your support."
After the collapse, the gym's owner Robert Alimena told the Times that it was a blessing the building was shutdown when it happened. “I’m just shaking like crazy," he said. “The building is so thick, like five or six bricks thick, so I cannot imagine what would actually trigger this chain reaction.”
The DOB said in a statement to Gothamist that the building suffered a full structural collapse. They have determined that the debris pile currently sitting on the corner of Court and Union streets is not in danger of further collapse, but is being monitored. They have also ordered the full demolition of the remaining structure, the erection of a fence around the property, and have issued a full vacate order to the neighboring commercial building at 350 Court Street until the site is safe.
Because the gym was officially closed at the time, only one person suffered minor injuries in the collapse: Jacinto Salazar, who has worked there for 15 years, told the Daily News he was repairing a second-floor towel dispenser when the building "began creaking ominously." Suddenly the collapse happened, and he found himself lying on the first floor, buried beneath a light fixture and sheet rock. “I don’t know why I was fixing it,” he said of the broken towel dispenser. “If I hadn’t been there, I probably would have been smashed. I just thank God for my life.”
He was able to get himself out and wander out of the building onto the street. He was treated for a head bruise, scrapes and cuts at Methodist Hospital.
According to city records, the DOB has issued at least eight fines to the building's owners Union & Court Realty Corp over the last 15 years. In the last year alone, they were issued five fines totaling over $11K. The most recent came just last month, when there was a partial stop work order issued on June 10th; a brick wall was "dangerously bulging over public sidewalk," and no protection was provided.