The Rapidian

Century-old garage collapses on Diamond by Wealthy, no injuries reported

The garage behind the Bazzani building on Wealthy Street collapsed Thursday with no warning of structural issues. No one was hurt in the collapse.

/Holly Bechiri

/Holly Bechiri

The large green garage behind Bazzani Associates (959 Wealthy Street SE) collapsed on Thursday at 12:49 p.m. No one was in or next to the building when it unexpectedly collapsed, though several classic cars and employee cars were in the garage at the time, as well as several vehicles parked directly outside, all of which are now destroyed.

Five employees regularly park their cars in the garage, and four of the five cars were there when the garage collapsed, with one employee off site during the lunch hour.

The garage, says owner Guy Bazzani, was approximately a century old and had been strengthened to repair previous structural weaknesses by Bazzani Associates. The building had been inspected in 2000, with no concerns evident since then.

"All we can determine is one of the structural trusses failed, probably due to the weight. It had been structurally inspected in 2000, and we had in fact made the building stronger than it was originally," says Bazzani. "It had an arced roof, what's called a barrel vaulted building. So unfortunately we lost a building that has been around in this neighborhood for close to a hundred years."

Rachel Lee, director of East Hills Council of Neighbors, urges property owners to take special precautions with extra weight loads on buildings due to snow.

"Snow buildup is a serious issue, especially in older houses and buildings," says Lee.

Bazzani says the building showed no signs of stress prior to the complete collapse.

"That building had been modified many times. It had been different types of garages over the years. We had repaired and closed up all those penetrations that made it weaker at the time. Where [priori modifications] had made it weaker, we made it stronger," says Bazzani. "We did not expect this. There was no warning."

Bazzani Associates is known for green sustainable design and historic preservation, with projects such as the Center of the Universe building, home to Marie Catrib's and WMEAC, among others. 

"It'll give us an opportunity to put a building on Diamond Street, I suppose," says Bazzani. "On the upside."

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