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One Killed, Two Injured In Harlem Building Collapse

Dec 27, 2006 | New York Sun

One person died and two others were injured when a building being renovated in Central Harlem partially collapsed yesterday.

A three-person crew was gutting the five-story red-brick structure on West 113th Street when the interior floors crumbled to the ground at about 12:30 p.m., fire department officials said. A construction worker identified as Richard Joseph, 33, of Brooklyn, was pronounced dead at the scene, police said. Two others were taken to St. Luke's Hospital in stable condition.

The residential building was not occupied during the renovation, police said.

Constructed in 1910, the building was in the process of being rehabilitated for low-income housing, city officials said. Previously city-owned, it was sold in June 2003 by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development as part of its Neighborhood Entrepreneurs Program, an agency spokeswoman, Amanda Pitman, said.

The building is owned by the Neighborhood Partnership Housing Development Fund Corporation, an affiliate of the Enterprise Foundation, which builds affordable housing throughout the country. Under the terms of the sale, a neighborhood-based company, Global Partners, was designated to oversee renovation of the building, Ms. Pitman said.

Messages left yesterday at Global Partners and the Enterprise Foundation were not immediately returned. HPD documents indicate that Global Partners has received more than $400,000 in tax credits since 2004 for building low-income housing in New York City. Information was not available yesterday as to how many other buildings are associated with Global Partners. A building across the street from the one that collapsed is owned by an affiliate company, according to a sign on the building's exterior.

After the collapse, officials from the city's Department of Buildings said inspectors would determine the cause. A department spokeswoman said in October that the agency issued a work permit to Transcorp Construction Corporation in Elmhurst, Queens.

Officials indicated the building received three citations this year stemming from complaints about scaffolding safety and contractors working without a permit. Most recently, the buildings department issued a citation after it received a complaint about after-hours work at the site.

A security officer at a building on West 112th Street adjacent to the one that collapsed said she witnessed the accident on a surveillance camera. "When the debris fell down, I could see on my surveillance camera dust and debris," Linda Smith said. "I could even hear the guys calling for help."

Of the two survivors, one dug himself out of the building and the other was rescued by firefighters, fire department officials said. "The debris fell on top of the person who was trapped, and it took us a while to get that victim out," an assistant fire chief at the scene, Joseph Pfeifer, said.

A man who said he used to live in the building expressed shock. "It's just tr


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