[This post was updated at 5:30 p.m. to reflect new information from a 4 p.m. L&I press conference]
"It was a demolition job and the side wall spilled out onto the street, " said Mark Christof, a superintendent with Constructure Management Inc. "The building is so close to the street that even the bricks flying out there could've hurt somebody. But they positioned people all the way around the whole perimeter to make sure everybody was out of the way before it happened."
The collapse occurred as the demolition crew attempted to remove the top two floors of 257 Market Street. As a piece of machinery pulled on the building, a portion of the structure buckled and fell onto 259 Market Street, which crumbled from the weight of the debris.
"We had six people who were directing traffic and making sure in case an event like this did happen — although not foreseen — this is something we knew was a possibility and we took all the necessary safety precautions," said Leo Addimando, co-founder and managing partner of Alterra Property Group, which is developing the site. Addimando did point out that one car was dinged up by the collapse.
Neighbors were aware of the demolition, but were still startled when the building went down around shortly after 1 p.m. "They've been tearing it down for the last week and a half," said Bruce Goodman, who lives next door. "All morning long, there's been vibrations in my apartment. It felt like an earthquake."
The building had been scheduled to be demolished after the Department of Licenses and Inspections deemed it "imminently dangerous" in January, due to a bulging and deteriorating front wall. There were concerns about the safety of the project before the collapse, and extra precautions were taken. "We reviewed the site safety plan, we put added protections in place, we received a response call from the Fire Department just last Saturday notifying us of some pedestrian issues, to which we complied," said Licenses & Inspections commissioner Carlton Williams. "We moved walkways even further out to ensure protection."
In addition to moving the walkways further out, Addimando also pointed out that crew members shut down parts of Third Street for the more dangerous parts of the demolition. Addimando's development group also paid a sum of money to the neighboring restaurant, Bistro 7, requesting that they remained closed for two weeks as the demolition took place.
Alterra Property Group plans to build 59 apartments on top of a CVS. Although the city demolition permit required Constructure Management Inc. to put up an eight-foot barrier between the site and pedestrians, debris and bricks still managed to shoot out into the street. Nobody was hurt.