No injuries were reported, however the falling bricks crushed two vehicles parked along 79th Street at around 6:30 p.m. on Friday.
“It sounded like a big boom,” said Gary Gonzalez, owner of a minivan parked next to the building that was pummeled in the collapse. “The building was shaking a little bit, but I didn’t think it was nothing crazy so I left it like that.”
Gonzalez later came out to find bricks strewn across the street and his van destroyed.
The owner of building at 78-19 Jamaica Ave. would not comment as he walked around the debris, assessing the damage with the Department of Buildings (DOB).
According to Assemblyman Mike Miller, the emergency exit to the neighboring Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Senior Center, located in the Woodhaven Richmond Hill Volunteer Ambulance Corps at 78-15 Jamaica Ave., was also compromised in the collapse and will have to be closed until neighboring building is secured and rubble is removed from the emergency exit.
“Bricks can still fall on people, so until they take care of that situation, the center is going to be closed,” Miller said.
Miller explained the front 18 feet of the building that collapsed was not damaged, however the rest of the second floor has to be repaired. He added that only minor damage occurred at the senior center and Ambulance Corps.
“There was no structural damage. This building is fine,” he said, walking out of the senior center with State Senator Joseph Addabbo and DOB representatives following an assessment of the site on Saturday. “The kitchen has a little water damage because there was water on the roof that caused it to collapse.”
As for the vacant building now in need of repair, Addabbo said there is no structural damage to the front, however there are still roughly 30 violations that building’s owner must address.
Addabbo recalled visiting the location several times over the last year since the building first became vacant to address structural concerns and rodent infestation problems.
“We were concerned about this, and it is the fact that it is attached to the senior center that raised our concerns,” Addabbo said. “We can’t get seniors back here until the demolition and the cleanup because their back entrance, the fire exit, is compromised by that.”
In an effort to reopen the center as fast as possible, Addabbo said he is hopeful the repairs will be expedited.
“Now the idea is working with the owner here to work as quickly as possible to get the seniors back,” he said. “You look at something like this and you could say that it might take four or five months, but it can’t. We need to move this along.”
The J-line subway and Q56 bus service, which had to be suspended, was resumed on Saturday morning.