By Raanan Geberer
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Carroll Gardens residents were stunned Monday in the aftermath of a partial collapse of an expensive Carroll Street brownstone that was once Brownstoner’s “House of the Day.”
The four-story building at 241 Carroll St. — across from Carroll Park and next door to a public elementary school — was so badly damaged that demolition was set to begin during the afternoon, according to Tony Sclafani of the city Buildings Department.
The collapse happened about 1:10 a.m. Monday, according to a Fire Department spokesman. Of the four apartments in the building, which is located between Court and Smith streets, residents of only one were home at the time.
The collapse destroyed the facade of the back wall and one side wall. Ed Mannix, a neighbor who lives in another building on the street, told DNAinfo that “you could see into every floor. It looked like the whole wall peeled off.”
The situation was so severe, said Sclafani, that not only the residents of 241 Carroll St. but also the residents of several nearby rowhouses — 243 Carroll St., 240 Carroll St., 115 First Pl. and 117 First Pl. — were also evacuated. These people are expected to be let back into their buildings sometime in the near future, he said.
The building’s owner, Howard Schneider, lived in one of the apartments. The New York Times quoted his wife, Sisi Schneider, as saying, “It’s a loss, but we’re happy no one was home.”
She also told the Times that the building, which dates back to the 1860s, has been undergoing “slow unsettling” since the 1950s, when a neighboring brownstone was torn down to make room for P.S. 58.
Michael de Vulpillieres, a spokesman for American Red Cross’ Greater New York Region, said the organization met with, and registered, 21 adults and six children. So far, only one family, with two adults and four children, has accepted the Red Cross’ offer of emergency housing and funds for basic necessities.
A search of the Department of Buildings’ records shows that 241 Carroll St. seemed to have been a model building. There were no complaints until yesterday, no violations and no work orders.
While Schneider applied for a permit in 2010 to convert the building from four to three apartments, the work was never begun, said Sclafani.
The demolition will be a “hand demolition,” brick by brick, and will likely last for at least several days. All the while, Buildings Department personnel will be looking for causes of the collapse.
Service on the nearby F and G lines under Smith Street was temporarily halted early yesterday morning, but was back up and running by 6 a.m., in time for the morning rush hour.
On June 11, 2008, Brownstoner, a well-respected real estate blog, named 241 Carroll St. as its “House of the Day.”
At the time, it was for sale at $3.5 million, although Brownstoner thought this was a little too high-priced. The short article was accompanied by attractive photos of the building’s exterior and interior shots of its apartments.