BREAKING: Partial Building Collapse at 170 Smith Street

We’ve just gotten word that there has been a partial building collapse at 170 Smith Street. A reader forwarded us an alert from the MTA, since subway service underneath the building has been impacted by the accident. There are currently NYCTA emergency workers and at least one person from OEM on the scene. There has been no confirmation whether anyone has been injured or killed in the building. Hope to have more shortly.

Update: This just in from DOB:

Initial reports from the scene indicate the building at 170 Smith Street is in poor condition, but it has not collapsed. The building’s façade has suffered from neglect. On Tuesday, the Buildings Department issued an emergency declaration to allow the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to install a sidewalk shed. The sidewalk shed is in place, and served to catch pieces of the façade that reportedly fell from the building today. On Tuesday after the emergency declaration was issued, Buildings ordered the owner to allow the Department access to the building to make sure it’s structurally sound. The owner failed to do so, and Buildings called the Fire Department gain access to the building. Buildings inspectors and engineers remain on scene, and operations continue.

Update: Curbed has posted some good photos here.

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  • This is the VideoMania building.

  • That’s not good for business.

  • When I used to get videos at VideoMania way back when, I always used to wonder if the building would collapse on me while I was in their porn section. What a way to be dug out, amidst 10,000 porno DVDs.

    Anyways…yeah, of course. It was only a matter of time with that one.

    When the Videomania guy left he told me he could have bought the building but that it needed to be destroyed and rebuilt. Unfixable.

  • Sold 2 1/2 years ago for $1.35m – which I thought was quite a bit considering sturtural problems were quite visible from outside.
    Now I see again sold for $1.75 this year – with more problems and no tenants. That was crazy.
    Wonder if all the work MTA did in basement of building next door formerly Videomania and RentaCenter (which is another sore subject and biggest eyesore on Smith) – created more structural problems.

  • how does a building get to a state in which it just collapses????

  • So, based on what 12:05 says as a witness over the years to this building’s condition, this is yet another one of those buildings the city has allowed to sit and rot. This one has done what everyone worries these buildings will do – endanger people and damage infrastructure when it collapses.

    If an owner neglects a building to this degree TAKE IT AWAY. Period. Done. Buh bye.

    If they can use eminent domain to seize well-maintained buildings and homes, why not use it to seize neglected blighted buildings that are a menace?

    If I owned a property next door to one of these eyesores owned by some misanthropic a**hole I would send a letter every day to the DOB, call 311 every single day, and put up signs in my window with arrows pointing to the building saying, “If you worry about the condition of this building call 311”. Start a website about the building and record its decay. Seriously. Neighbors to these buildings need to become an absolute thorn in the side of the city until they finally do something.

  • I’m waiting for a broker to log in saying this building is “estate ready” and “edgy”.

  • corcoran will list it for $3.5 million

  • Must be atlantic yards’ fault.

  • This is so typical. DOB issues fines and the owners do nothing until the building damages someone or something. A few years back a building on Wyckoff between Bond & Nevins partially collapsed and bricks went through the roof of an adjacent building (thank goodness noone was hurt) and bricks destroyed a few cars in a parking lot on the other side.

    It took a few days for the DOB to order the building down.

    I predict that the next collapse will be the building on the corner of Wyckoff & Hoyt Streets that has beeen under a shed for about 4 years now.

  • 2:18:

    I was in a similar situation and did call 311, DOB and my city counselman weekly, but nothing happened.

    So your plan of ” become an absolute thorn in the side of the city until they finally do something. ” really doesn’t work. Sorry.

    I wish I had the answer.

  • 12:33

    Actually, a savvy Corcoran broker could list it as Carroll Gardens, which its not, and ask 9.5 mil.

    They could open a cannoli store.


  • It is not AY’s fault but I guarantee you, if Ratner wanted to build a stadium where this building now stands – or leans, the city would have condemned it years ago for eminent domain.

  • I walked by there this week on Tuesday and could see the ceiling had previously collapsed. Not a reassuring sight.

  • 12:40: There’s a new sign up on that one offering to build-to-spec as part of a sale/rental.

  • 12:43 is right. NYC owners have powerful rights, even when their neglected property abuts another or even shares a wall. These laws were designed with suburban houses in mind: unattached and far from places where pedestrians thronged. The laws should be different for attached houses or houses that are near busy sidewalks. Right now all the DOB can do is fine. They rarely take a property for neglect. While that’s a good deal from a property rights perspective, it unwisely shortchanges public safety.

  • This is no surprise to anyone who lives in the area. 170 Smith and the MTA-owned building next door are both abominations. I’ve spent years complaining to 311, Marty, Yassky, Dept. of Sanitation about these properties, the continued safety and sanitation violations, and nothing ever changes. It’s pathetic.

  • Michael Jackson just bought that building a few days ago for $4,8million.

  • If 311 and DOB and the city and Marty refuse to do anything about these buildings (there are several in prime Park Slope too) then try a public outing of these buildings as well as the political situation that lets property owners get away with abandonment and neglect. Shame them all into making changes.

    There should be a “Brooklyn’s Wall of Shame” website with photos of all the neglected buildings. Name the owners, and document evidence of the neglect. Neighbors can post the dates they have made complaints or sent letters, to show the history of non-response from the city.

  • We have two neglected buildings on my street. Both owners are crazy and completely beyond shame. One house was recently sold at foreclosure auction (thank god) but not until it had a sprinkler accident that had run unchecked for nearly 12 hours, lost its roof, and caused odorous “seepage” into the houses attached to it.

  • 1:26

    I would like to hit that pipe you are smoking.

    Get real!

  • Maybe this collapse immediately following the crane collapse will be the 1-2 that gives the story about these issues and the DOB some legs in the press.

  • Thank you, owner of a neglected building at 1:48.

    There already exist websites about bad buildings and bad neighbors that people have created, all over the country. These tactics are already in use. When the city doesn’t help them, they take it public.

    YOU get real. And get with the 21st century, you obvious old guy.

  • Also 1:48 there’s this newfangled thing called YouTube on which people have posted for a couple years now, video of bad construction practices, bad neighbors and bad buildings.

  • This building has been slowling falling down for about 2 years. It was just a matter of time. I have been walking on the other side of the street for over a year just for the fear that it would collapse on me

  • “how does a building get to a state in which it just collapses????”

    Usually, and suddenly, from disturbance of soil below the foundation by adjacent excavation. Seldomly, and gradually, by excess deflection of joists and beams. If floors collapse because of joist and beam failure, the walls become unbraced and can buckle. The latter gives you warning. The former makes adjacent construction a red flag where underpinning is imperative.

  • Unbraced columns and disturbed load bearing walls will do a number on you as well.

  • 1:26, 1:52 & 1:55 (which I assume are the same people):

    You forgot to suggest a “love in” where people who live in the wake of a neglected building can sit around, hold hands and chant willing the building back to a pristine state.

    I’m also amazed with your soothsaying abilities. You are like the Amazing Kreskin because you outed 1:48 as the owner of a derelict property and as an old person. Kudos to you! I can’t wait to see you on Leno and Letterman!

    Please let everone know when you’ll be on the air bending spoons with your brain.

  • If I were the owner of this building waiting for it to fall down is probably a whole lot faster and cheaper than trying to get permits to demo and build something new. I might even do something to speed the collapse along.

  • what’s the meaning of those yellow spray-painted X’s on the facade?

  • The building is fine. It is just settling a little. Solid as a rock. Yours for the rock-bottom price of 2.8 million.
    Delivered way vacant!

  • the kicker is amount of overpaid mta union bozos outside looking guilty as sin.

  • you’re right, 5:51, this is the fault of unions. but what isn’t? i just shat my pants and i’m going to figure out how to blame ’em. have a good one!

  • 6:01 home early?
    maybe you shat your pants from too many coffee and donut breaks.

  • WOW! I’ve never been to this site before and I’ve only driven through Brooklyn on a few occasions – but the posts on this page are hilarious! I’m gonna keep coming back for updates as I have no doubt the banter in this post will get even more interesting as the building deteriorates even further. Is there any way to find out what scum owns this building? It’s probably someone who lives in Florida and could care less about what happens in NYC.

  • Guest @ 3:55
    They are spray painted by FDNY – it tells other fire fighters not to enter; or in fire lingo: no interior attack – surround and drown. Typically the X through the box means no roof. Line up and to the left means stay to the left (usually because of awhole in the floor). Line up and to the right is stay to the right.

  • This is so ghetto. Why would anyone what to live in this area?

  • This is a very nice area that you obviously have never been to. People notice any neglected building around here because they are few and far between.

  • By the way,what’s going on with the building to the right of it? It’s very mysterious, all sealed off from prying eyes. Anyone know?

  • Hey 2:15 (who is pretending not to be 1:48 when he totally is) what could you possibly have against a community trying to ensure people aren’t killed and neighboring property destroyed by some a**hole’s neglected building??

    Quite obviously you are the owner of this building or an owner of a similarly piece of sh*t building. It’s called a personal agenda. Pretty misanthropic and selfish one at that.

    Because otherwise please give me one good logical reason you or anyone would have to ridicule somebody who is simply trying to do something good. Seriously. Really. Give me one reason.


  • Hey Brownstoner,

    The verb is “affect,” not “impact.” I know it’s tough to distinguish it from “effect,” and that’s why everyone prefers to speak in Pentagon- or Wall Street jargon, but trust your junior high English teacher: it’s affect.