Historic Building Demolished After Partial Collapse | NECN
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Historic Building Demolished After Partial Collapse

The New Haven fire chief gives an update on the building demolished after the partial collapse. (Published Monday, Aug. 17, 2015)

A building that has stood at Orange and Chapel streets in New Haven since before the Civil War is now a pile of rubble after it started to collapse on Sunday evening and needed to be demolished as a safety precaution. 

The historic 810 Chapel Street building building next to a busy bus shelter began to slowly crumble around noon Sunday as bricks fell from the building, according to the New Haven Register.

"New Haven is an old city and that is an asset, but it is also a challenge," New Haven Mayor Toni Harp said Monday.

New Haven's building official condemned the building after the falling bricks were noticed, Harp said. Firefighters were called at 3:25 p.m. and were dispatched to the scene. The area was secured with barrier tap. Then just after 5 p.m. after, an off-duty firefighter called in to report the building was in imminent danger of collapsing, so more crews responded.

Firefighters determined the building was collapsing from the roof down and "pancaking" onto the floors below.

The mid-19th Century building is about 150 years old.

Crews initially thought only the top of the building needed to go, but as things started moving, they realized the entire building would be unstable and would have to go.

Then at 10:05 p.m., the "3-foot decorative cornice fell from the building," Harp said.

 The remainder of floors began to "pancake down," fire officials said. That's when fire officials decided the building needed to be demolished for public safety.

The demolition process was completed by 4 a.m. Monday. Crews are searching through the debris to see if there is any salvageable and recycleable matterials.

"We can attribute this failure to neglect and building decay," Harp said.

Owner Paul Denz, of Northside Development Company, said they noticed a sagging issue with the cornice about six months ago and though the building was secure after installing strapping.

Harp said the owner previously planned to take the building down to build an apartment complex on the land and the land he owns next door.

Officials from the company that owns the building recently met with city officials about plans to demolish the building to build a new $10,000-square-foot commercial or residential building on the site.

Harp said the city expects to close the nearby bus stops until Friday. The city's transportation and traffic and parking officials will set up an alternate route for buses that stop in that area, she said.

The fire marshal was called out to inspect the building in 2011 and the owners were given a demolition order. However, they were given the option to restore it to a certain degree to prevent that from happeniing."

City officials will be inspecting commercial and vacant buildings in the city to prevent future issues like this from happening.

Chapel Street was closed from Church to State streets and Orange Street was closed from Crown to Elm streets, but both have since reopened.

It's believed the building's decaying roof was pushing out a wall, sending bricks down onto the streets as the roof began to come down, Harp said.

If you have a concern about your building being on the verge of collaps, you can contact the building department or the fire marshal.

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