A preliminary investigation into the fatal partial collapse of a Lower Manhattan parking garage found that too much weight on the roof and the building's age contributed to the severity of the collapse, according to the New York City Fire Dept. chief of safety.

The structure that collapsed April 18 was a three-story parking garage building with a cellar underneath, according to Mayor Eric Adams' office. The structure was built in 1925, records show. The building was permitted in 1957 for live loads of up to 120 lb per sq ft on the first, second and third stories, and for 75 lb per sq ft on the roof.

The New York City Dept. of Buildings (DOB)’s inspection found that the roof, the third floor, and the second floor all collapsed into the footprint of the building. In addition, the rear wall of the building has partially collapsed, and the front wall of the building is bulging. 

According to NYC Emergency Management Commissioner Zach Iscol, more than 50 vehicles were parked on the roof. A controlled demolition of the garage may take more than three weeks, he said. Crews were using cranes to remove vehicles from the debris one by one.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has opened an investigation into the collapse, which killed one person and injured several others. The man who died has been identified by city officials as the garage’s longtime parking manager Willis Moore, 59. He was in his office when the roof and upper floors dropped onto lower levels, officials said.

The fatal collapse happened less than nine months before New York City’s first deadline for such structures to be inspected for hazardous conditions. A New York City local law that took effect Jan. 1, 2022, requires owners of parking structures to hire an engineer to inspect the building at least once every six years and file a report with DOB.

Open Violations

The nearly century-old structure at 57 Ann St., between Nassau and Williams streets, has several violations that have gone unresolved since as far back as 2003, according to an update provided by the office of Mayor Eric Adams. DOB inspectors had reported cracked concrete, loose concrete and other hazardous violations. 

“Right now, there are some active violations on the building dating back to 2003, but in 2010 an application was filed, which did not indicate the violation was corrected,” said DOB Acting Commissioner Kazimir Vilenchik.

In November 2003, DOB inspectors issued a violation to the property owner for failure to maintain the building. The violation references cracks and defects in the concrete. DOB conducted multiple inspections of the garage after this 2003 violation, issuing additional violations for building code issues at the building in 2005 and 2009.

During the October 2009 inspection, DOB issued a second violation to the property owner for failure to maintain the building. This violation again references cracks and defects in the concrete, as well as other unsafe conditions. At the time, DOB ordered the owner to retain the services of a professional engineer and submit a report to correct the violating conditions.

In January 2010, the owner of the building, 57 Ann Street Realty Associates Inc., and its professional engineer, Gage Parking Consultants, began filing applications to make structural repairs to the building, correct open violations, and install 34 auto lifts inside of the building. Permits were obtained for the work, and DOB received several technical engineering reports from the building owner’s professional engineer related to the project.

In November 2011, DOB inspectors conducted an inspection of 57 Ann Street and observed that the permitted repair work was ongoing and that the interior maintenance of the building was in good condition. Another violation was issued as the inspector found that cars were parked in front of the emergency exit, and the egress was obstructed.

While the owner did obtain permits and made repairs, DOB never received certificates of correction for the previously issued open violations, which are required paperwork filings needed to officially close out the violations. However, the owner paid all associated penalties imposed by the city Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings.

In November 2013, DOB conducted another inspection of the building. They did not issue any violations for any structural concrete issues, but did issue violations for unrelated issues, including blocked egress (a locked exit door), a missing handrail on a staircase, a missing cover for a floor drain and missing vehicle barriers.

The building’s owners have paid a total of $2,200 in fines stemming from the three open hazardous violations, according to records. Since 1976, the building has been cited for 64 violations. Little Man Parking is the operator of the garage. 

Vacate Order

As a result of ongoing inspections at the scene, the DOB issued full vacate or partial orders to several adjacent properties due to their proximity to the collapsed parking garage including. The vacate orders were issued in the interest of public safety, due to the immediate hazard posed by the collapsed building, according to the DOB.

A FDNY rescue task force continues to search debris and every vehicle removed from the building for victims or remains.

Precautions also are being taken since vehicles are filled with gas, and there also may be electric vehicles in the debris. The cars are being removed to Pier 36 after removal for owners to claim.