BRONX, New York City - We've learned exclusively that the Bronx district attorney has launched a criminal investigation into ongoing problems first reported on in numerous reports by 7 On Your Side Investigates.
The Bronx DA started investigating after Eyewitness News revealed last August that the foundation of condo building on 236th Street was built on clay instead of bedrock. The city ordered it fixed to ensure safety.
John Smith, who owns the apartment building next to the condo site, says the foundation remains unsafe and threatens his building. His own engineer used an underground probe to show how the foundation remains a big risk.
"The underground camera probe shows a clear horizontal void between the foundation and the soil below," engineer Anthony Marmo said. "It goes to the very issue of stability of the seven-story building."
And for nearly a year, Smith has tried to alert city building inspectors to another critical safety issue: each floor, he claims, lacks the required bond beams for which the steel joists can be bonded or adhered thus strengthening the building.
Three times Smith contacted the city about the defective beams, first in February, then in April and again in September. Each time, a building inspector came to the site and declared "no violation warranted." But soon after, the district attorney started serving subpoenas and the Department of Buildings cited the builder for a "lack of bond beams in the load-bearing wall."
That's a similar condition that caused the partial collapse weeks ago of a building under construction in Brooklyn, which resulted in serious injury to several workers. Smith fears the same thing could happen with the Bronx building.
"Undetected, these conditions will lead to failure and a structural collapse of this building," Smith said. "The DA should order this building torn down."
The Department of Buildings declined to comment on the district attorney's investigation. A spokesman did say they believe the building is safe. The owner of the building ignored our repeated attempts for a comment.