Vacant New Haven Building Went Uninspected Years Before Demolition

A historic building in New Haven was demolished after chunks of brick fell to the street below, and a local historian says the city and developer failed to maintain the structure.

NBC Connecticut has learned that the vacant building at the corner of Orange and Chapel streets went uninspected for years.

City officials say it was essentially impossible to check them all. Inspectors learned the building's condition was much worse than they originally believed when bricks began crumbling Sunday afternoon.

"The front cornice collapsed onto the sidewalk below and from there the remainder of the floors began to pancake onto the second and first floors," explained New Haven Fire Department Operations Chief Matthew Marcarelli.

Throughout Sunday night and into Monday morning, construction crews razed the building, which was deemed unsafe.

Vacant buildings must be inspected once per year, according to state law. New Haven’s fire chief told NBC Connecticut the last inspection of this building was in 2011 and that limited resources make it virtually impossible to inspect all vacant buildings every year.

Demolitions were ordered in 2007, as well. The owner of the building restored only the floor, according to Marcarelli, and historian Robert Greenberg says its condition was unacceptable.

"Just the mere fact that those bricks were allowed to let loose next to a bus stop is completely wrong," said Greenberg.

Paul Denz, who bought the building in 2012, says the previous owner could not afford the city-ordered demolition. According to Denz, the city lifted the demolition order when he boarded up the windows and rooftop. He says he was in the process of getting approval for a new apartment building that would have replaced the existing structure.

The city's building inspector and fire marshals plan to look at every vacant building immediately to ensure safety.

The bus stop will be closed until Friday as the city cleans up.

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