Demolition crews in New Haven have completely torn down a longstanding building at the corner of Chapel and Orange streets after it partially collapsed on Sunday night.
Crews were there for about 12 hours and cleared the scene around 5:15 a.m. They worked through the night to demolish the building safely before the morning commute.
Paul Denz, the building's owner, told Eyewitness News that the building, though vacant, was inspected six months ago. He said recommendations were made, which he corrected.
"I can't believe it," said Phillip Danishevsky of New Haven. "There was so much history to this building so I had to come and take a look."
Some people Eyewitness News spoke with said the corner was once a bustling area.
"It was standing as tall as the brick building behind me but a little shorter," said Lisa Haynes of Milford. "It was rundown. It just needed a little TLC."
After the partial collapse, however, safety became an issue.
"Safety is definitely number one, of course, because there's a lot of people, elderly, kids, babies, the whole 50 yards," Haynes said. "I never knew that this was like really, really physically falling apart."
Denz said a collapsed roof pushed out a wall, which caused the building to begin to break down.
He said a decision had to be made to tear the rest of it down because it became more unstable.
The building stood at a busy intersection with a bus stop which residents said was the most convenient in the city.
"They all hang out over here," Hanyes said. "They're like in between commuting back and forth, saying hello to to other people and whatever, getting their coffees, getting something to eat."
Crews from the Southern Connecticut Gas company worked to turn off all the utilities. Contractors also cleared the sidewalk.
"[Monday], luckily it's over with, and [Sunday] there was hardly anybody here, so we are lucky," Danishevsky said.
According to a worker with the demolition team, the building was supposed to be brought down only partially at first.
"I guess the roof had caved in," said Tony Nesto, ABCON Environmental. "There were some bricks that fell on the pavement. It was Sunday, so luckily no one got hurt."
Chapel Street was closed between State and Church streets while Orange Street was closed at Elm Street. Those roads reopened around 6 a.m.
Denz said the demolition makes way for a larger building with retail space and apartments. It's unclear when that will begin.
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