'Clearly there was a problem;' City issues citations after Farwell building falls into street

Posted at 11:46 AM, Nov 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-22 18:35:23-05

MILWAUKEE -- The city's Department of Neighborhood Services issued four citations Tuesday after debris from a deconstruction project on Farwell Avenue fell into the road Monday. 

Farwell Avenue was temporarily closed to traffic after a building undergoing deconstruction fell into the street, scattering debris and shattering nearby windows. There were no reported injuries. 

It happened around 11:00 a.m. Monday near the intersection of N. Farwell Ave. and E. Kane Pl. The building, that's being taken down to make way for a new apartment building, had already begun the process of deconstruction. 

A spokesman for the developer of the new building says deconstruction crews knew the building was leaning, and they intentionally closed the street knowing debris would scatter into the street. He also said it all went as planned. 

But a city spokesman for the Department of Neighborhood Services said "clearly there was a problem there" and that the city had no prior notice of the contractor's intentions.

The spokesman said if the city had known this was the plan, they would have taken steps to ensure the road was closed properly. They also would have had police, fire and the Department of Public Works on the scene and made sure nearby buildings were protected. 

The four citations were issued for violating a city oridance that says "the contractor failed to maintain control of demolition and allowed portions of the building to fall uncontrolled into the public way without proper safeguards and approvals in place prior to commencing work." 

The citations were given to the four different entities involved in the project, including the contractor performing the deconstruction. Each company was fined $565, which the city says is the standard citation value and does not reflect the damage or severity. 

The spokesman for the developer said they did not expect to shatter any windows but they knew it was a possibility. 

Recyclean Inc. is the company working to deconstruct the building, a process that according to the company's website is more environmentally friendly compared to demolition.

The city says the contractor did have a demolition permit. 

Several people tweeted photos documenting the collapse: