Fatality Puts NYC Parking Structures Under Scrutiny

Dozens of sites with parking garages have potentially dangerous structural flaws that require immediate fixing.   May 16, 2023

By Dan Hounsell, Senior Editor 

Concrete parking structures and other buildings might seem indestructible, but maintenance and engineering managers know that is far from the truth. Without comprehensive inspection and repair programs, the ravages of nature -- especially road salt, moisture and sub-zero temperatures – combined with bearing heavy loads, can take a tremendous toll on these structures and cause their deterioration. 

In the case of concrete parking structures in New York City, this deterioration had fatal results. 

Dozens of sites with parking garages have potentially dangerous structural flaws that require immediate fixing, the top official for New York City’s Department of Buildings (DOB) told the New York Post after a deadly collapse in Manhattan. 

City inspectors identified roughly 4,000 garages being used across the five boroughs after the Financial District parking deck disaster that left one dead and five others injured. At least 61 of the locations have open Class 1 violations against them for failing to maintain the buildings, the DOB said.  

Officials are still probing the cause of the April 18 collapse, which killed the garage manager and left several others briefly trapped beneath the concrete and steel wreckage. The working theory, according to an FDNY internal memo, is that the three-story garage likely crumbled under the weight of too many vehicles on the roof. The building’s advanced age also likely contributed, the memo said. 

While the department hasn’t received reports that any of those locations are structurally unstable, it says inspectors are currently examining them out of an abundance of caution. 

The DOB warned that the list of 61 locations is subject to change, adding that it is yet to be determined if the violations are tied directly to the parking structures or other parts of the building. 

The locations include both commercial parking structures and parking facilities that only take up parts of residential or commercial buildings. The DOB did not provide a timeline for when the safety checks would be completed but vowed that “certain garages are to be inspected by the end of this year.” 

Dan Hounsell is senior editor of the facilities market. He has more than 30 years of experience writing about facilities maintenance, engineering and management. 


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