NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A three-story building collapse sent people scrambling for cover Wednesday in Brooklyn.

One person suffered minor injuries, but neighbors breathed a sigh of relief knowing it could have been much worse.

Exclusive surveillance video shows a sunny and busy afternoon on Court Street in Carroll Gardens. The street is quickly swallowed in a cloud of smoke when Body Elite Gym suddenly collapses.

Victor Giganti said he was in front of the building less than a minute before.

“That would have collapsed right on top of me. So I consider myself really lucky,” he told CBS2’s John Dias. “I came out, I unlocked my bike, then I took off around the corner and I heard this noise.”

Late Wednesday night, the Department of Buildings told CBS2 the building suffered a full structural collapse. Crews are monitoring the stability of its south wall, since that did not cave in.

“We do know that there was some issues with the façade. There was a bulge in the exterior wall. And that was one of the things that they were here to get a stop work order, because of the way they were performing the work,” said a DOB spokesperson.

The gym posted on Facebook, saying for 36 years it was part of the community and “words can’t describe the overwhelming shock.” Fortunately, it had been closed during the pandemic and there weren’t any members inside.

“It’s the one good thing about everyone being at home and the gym not being open,” witness Megan Bradley said.

“There would have been a lot of tragedy involved,” Giganti added.

Witnesses said the building crumbled in 30 seconds.

“It was crazy to see a building that’s been here forever just go down like that,” said Greg Fitzgerald.

“We used to go there – all my neighbors all went there to the gym – and it’s a shame,” a woman named Rosemarie added.

The FDNY said it was not an explosion, but the cause of the collapse is under investigation.

Online records from the DOB show around a dozen complaints that were made to the city about the building’s structural stability every few years dating back to the 1990s.

A gym employee told CBS2’s Lisa Rozner there was recent construction to install more windows, but he didn’t think it was to blame.

“There’s steel reinforced beams everywhere, and there would be no reason to question the integrity of the structure of it,” Roddy Evans said.

The DOB ordered the full demolition of the remaining structure, and a health food store next door was issued a full vacate order.


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