Contractor shoring-up partially collapsed New Haven building in Wooster Square

Photo of Mark Zaretsky

NEW HAVEN — A contractor hired by the city is working to stabilize a partially-collapsed, 163-year-old multifamily house on St. John Street in Wooster Square but officials aren’t 100 percent sure it can be saved, said Building Official Jim Turcio.

“We’re working on it now,” Turcio said Thursday. “We have a contractor over there right now trying to shore it up. We’re hopeful that we can get it shored-up by the end of the day.”

The collapse of the pre-Civil War brick building at 334 St. John St. — which was vacant — was discovered by a passerby late Wednesday night, Turcio said. “I got there around 11:30” p.m. after the person walking by called 911 and alerted the Fire Department, said Turcio, who said he was at the site all night.

An emergency crew immediately was called in to try to prevent further collapse of the building, which according to city property records was constructed in 1858 and purchased for $414,000 in 2018 by Sublime Realty LLC, then conveyed to Sublime Ventures LLC in 2019.

No one was injured, Turcio said.

“It’s quite disturbing. I’ve had three buildings fall in the city in six years,” Turcio said.

Owner Avi Meer told the New Haven Independent that the building has been vacant for more than a year on the city’s order after tenants heard a vehicle crash into the building, causing structural damage.

He could not immediately be reached for additional comment.

Turcio confirmed that the city subsequently ordered the property vacated and that a remediation plan be put into place to avoid a collapse. He also confirmed that on May 22, 2020, he issued an unsafe structure notice to Meer. Turcio then issued a second, final notice on Sept. 9, he said.

Meer told the Independent that he hired a structural engineer to draw up plans to restore the building, but his insurance company would not pay, challenging his version of the cause of the damage. The driver who slammed into the building was never located or identified, he told the Independent.

Turcio confirmed that the owner “is being held up by the insurance company.”

Check back for updates.