NYC partially closes 4 parking garages after fatal collapse

NEW YORK (AP) – After the deadly collapse of a parking structure in lower Manhattan, New York City building officials swept through dozens of parking garages and ordered four of them to close immediately because of structural defects that “deteriorated to the point where they was now posing an immediate threat to public safety.”

Two of the parking garages have apartments above them — a 25-story high-rise in midtown Manhattan and an eight-story building in Chinatown — but officials said the residential areas do not appear to be at risk.

City officials instructed the owners of the parking facilities to make immediate repairs to corroded concrete and other damage.

Inspections were launched shortly after a three-story freestanding parking structure, roughly a century old, imploded in chunks of concrete and twisted metal on April 1[ads1]8, crushing the manager to death.

“This work was done out of concern for public safety, and out of an abundance of caution,” said Department of Buildings spokesman Andrew Rudansky.

“During our review of 78 parking structures, we found four locations where structural concerns necessitated the immediate vacating of areas of the buildings,” he said.

The city last year began requiring parking structures to be inspected by owners at least once every six years. The first wave of garages, located from the southern tip of Manhattan to the lower Central Park area, have until the end of the year to complete initial inspections.

The structure that collapsed earlier this month had not yet completed the required inspection, city officials said.

Why it collapsed is still under investigation, but the building had previously been reported for various structural defects, including signs of corrosion in concrete called “spaling”.

Two decades ago, city inspectors cited the property owner for not properly maintaining the building, and found at the time that there were “cracks and defects” in the concrete. A more recent inspection in the fall of 2013 showed no additional structural problems, building officials said.

The garage, a couple of blocks from City Hall and the Brooklyn Bridge, collapsed just as the first trickles of patrons began returning to the garage after work.

The collapse shook nearby buildings and terrified people who described the sound of the falling structure as a massive explosion and compared the experience to a violent earthquake.

Enterprise Ann Parking, which operated the garage on Ann Street, said it was cooperating with authorities on the probe.

Inspectors have since visited 17 car parks managed by the same company, as well as 61 additional buildings with car parks that had open structural references.

They found four properties with structural damage in the parking garages where the damage was so extensive that the city issued evacuation orders to at least parts of the structures.

Underneath the 25-story building in lower Manhattan, inspectors found concrete slabs “extensively corroded, with peeling concrete on the underside of the two-story slab roof.” As a result, more than half of the garage is now off-limits, and the operators ordered to provide protected paths in these places.

But engineers found no need to leave any residential areas in the building.

Similarly, building officials said residents could stay in a Chinatown apartment despite finding “many severely deteriorated and rusted steel beams, with excessive cracked and cracked concrete piers.”

A two-story parking structure in Brooklyn was in such disrepair, the city said, that it ordered the entire structure closed. Another two-story structure in the borough was partially closed due to extensive corroded beams and deteriorated vehicle ramps.

The four buildings cannot reopen until repairs have been carried out and inspection has passed.

Because parking garage inspections continue, officials said more enforcement actions may be forthcoming.

Meanwhile, crews continue to clear debris from the fallen structure.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg had opened an investigation into the collapse.

An initial investigation by the building department noted that all three floors of the garage partially or completely collapsed. The rear wall of the garage partially collapsed, and the front facade swelled.

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