Photo courtesy Scott Antipa

Demolition of the fire-damaged building at Mission and 22nd streets has caused some damage to the foundation of 131-year-old building next door on 22nd Street that houses several businesses and apartments, 3224-3248 22nd Street.

Since the city issued an emergency alteration order to demolish the burned building, a flurry of activity has removed nearly all of the structure except the basement walls. When a wall that once stood between the two buildings was being removed, tenants of the still-standing building said their apartments began shaking.

“We were all asleep at six or seven in the morning when they started to take an arm of one of those Caterpillars to bang it against the wall,” recalled tenant Scott Antipa, a resident of the 22nd Street building. “We all ran out in our underwear screaming, it literally woke us up like a huge earthquake. I’ve lived in California my entire life, never felt shaking like that.”

Antipa said he and his housemates were told that this was just a fact of demolition and not to leave any glassware out.

A photo in which Antipa says construction workers are holding the wall up with a construction vehicle while piling dirt to keep it in place. Photo by Scott Antipa

On May 27, the Department of Building Inspection issued Notices of Violation to the owners of both the demolished building and the damaged building. The notices said that “a portion of the foundation [of the 22nd Street building] has been dislodged and compromised the structural foundation support for the rear of the building,” and that a rear portion of [its] foundation had been “damaged and dislodged from its location.”  

Antipa said crews continued until the deck and stairs of his building began to tilt away from the building and the landlord came out to urge them to stop. After the incident, demolition of the dividing wall has proceeded by hand.

Another resident of the building, who requested anonymity, said he and other neighbors were questioning whether to remain in the building out of fear of ongoing maintenance concerns.

“It’s a big hassle. Some people are thinking about moving just to deal with it,” said the resident. “I moved here a year ago. Rent’s not cheap, so I could move.”

Antipa said one family had already moved out of the building because it had been damaged in the January 2015 fire, though this could not be independently confirmed.

A report from a structural engineer on the site, Albert Urrutia of Santos & Urrutia Structural Engineers, also noted that at around 11 a.m. on May 26, workers had been removing a parapet of the 22nd Street building, causing vibrations that buckled a ground floor slab and pulling the property line concrete wall with it.  Some 14 feet of the 22nd Street building’s brick foundation also collapsed, per the report.

“When the remaining portion of the concrete wall moved back and forth it slapped the light well deck structures,” the report notes.

Urrutia’s report indicates that after the failure, a shoring contractor was brought in to shore up the 22nd Street building’s foundation and pile dirt to against the side of the building to support the remaining portions of wall. The measures, the report indicated, made the building structurally sound once more as of June 2.

Part of the shoring of the foundation at 3224 22nd Street. Photo by Scott Antipa

John O’Brien, the listed contact for the demolition company, declined to comment due to not being on site. An on-site construction worker also declined to give his name for comment.

After some discussions with their landlords, who declined to comment, Antipa said he was assured the demolition would go forward more cautiously. Suspicious, he returned from work on a lunch break to find the demolition crews pulling the cement wall away from the remaining building, moving the entire rear deck and displacing some two-by-fours within the structure.  

The Department of Building Inspections is monitoring the building and demolition daily.

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