Weather, old age blamed for partial downtown building collapse

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CLEVELAND – Structural engineers examined the Garfield Building, determining a combination of factors including old age and weather likely contributed to a partial collapse of a masonry façade that sent bricks cascading to the ground. Crews cleaned up debris along East 6th Street, which remained closed, in addition to Vincent Ave. and the westbound Lane of Euclid Avenue at East 6th.

“A big gust of wind came and we thought it was the rain coming,” said eyewitness Jeff Williams, who works as a chef at nearby Porcelli’s Bistro. “Then we heard this loud boom, and we looked down the street, and a big dust cloud was coming and it was the bricks falling off the top of this building.”

A 30 foot section of the downtown building’s façade, or parapet wall, collapsed around 4:15 p.m. Monday. The bricks crushed a minivan belonging to a Bay Village family, who tell Fox 8 they parked minutes before the collapse. They didn’t find out what had happened until after returning from the Cavs game.

“It was by the grace of God nobody was in that car,” Williams said, adding that the downtown street is typically busy.

Millenia Housing Companies bought the building in January with plans to rehabilitate it and convert it to apartments and retail.

“The age of the building, built in 1893, the heavy winter and the extreme wind and heat yesterday possibly caused the fail of the outside width of brick,” said Matt Solomon, Director of Design for Millenia Housing Companies.

Solomon said the company is proposing temporary re-enforcement along the top to begin Wednesday, with more extensive re-building to follow. He said structural engineers reported the building is structurally sound.

“Unfortunately this happened before we could stage and start our construction,” he said. “But the level of concern over anything to fail from now on is very, very low.”

An attorney for Millenia Companies said westbound Euclid Avenue may be closed through the end of the week, and East 6th and Vincent may remain closed even longer.