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Partially collapsed Davenport, Iowa building is in “imminent danger” of complete collapse

Iowa officials plan to demolish a six-story apartment building a day later Partially collapsed, displacing countless residents and business owners. One report said a ninth person was rescued on Monday night. No deaths have been reported.

Officials in the city of Davenport, in eastern Iowa, said in a news release Monday that the property’s owner has received a demolition order for the building, which was once the Davenport Hotel. Residents were not allowed to go back inside to remove their belongings due to the precarious condition of the building.

“The property is currently being secured by a contractor on site this afternoon and demolition is expected to begin in the morning,” the statement said.

A partially collapsed six-story apartment building in Davenport, Iowa
A worker walks past a six-story apartment building in Davenport, Iowa on May 29, 2023 after it partially collapsed the day before.

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In a press release Monday evening, city officials said the building is “at imminent risk of collapse as the condition at the site continues to deteriorate,” adding that engineers have determined that the debris pile contributes to the building’s stability and removing it “could jeopardize or accelerate the inevitable collapse.”

Rich Oswald, director of Development and Neighborhood Services for Davenport, said in the release, “With the existing structure in imminent danger of collapse, the necessity to demolish this particular building stems from our desire to maintain as secure the surrounding areas as possible.”

The city said its crews were unable to find anyone who needed rescue 24 hours after the partial collapse Sunday at 5 p.m.

But CBS Rock Island, affiliate of WHBF-TV, reported that A.J One resident was rescued shortly before 8:00 p.m. Monday.

Her family told the station that she had called a relative to say she was stuck in the apartment, as she had been hiding under the sofa after the partial collapse, and rescuers saw her waving from the apartment window.

The woman will be the ninth person pulled from the building since the partial collapse, said Davenport Fire Chief Mike Carlsten, and more than a dozen others were escorted out of the building because they were “evacuating” immediately after the partial collapse.

A partially collapsed six-story apartment building in Davenport, Iowa
The perimeter of a six-story apartment building in Davenport, Iowa, was secured on May 29, 2023 after it partially collapsed the previous day.

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The city added in a statement Monday night that the police “are working to communicate with and account for all individuals known to be residing in the building at the time of the collapse,” but that “there are unaccounted-for individuals who were residents of the property.”

The cause of the collapse was not immediately known.

But the news of the collapse didn’t surprise former resident Shalanne Murray, who told The Associated Press his one-year stay there had been a “nightmare.”

Murray, 46, moved into his apartment in February 2022 and almost immediately began having issues. The AC and heat didn’t work, and there were plumbing issues in the bathroom.

A partially collapsed six-story apartment building in Davenport, Iowa
Clothes are still hanging in a closet on May 29, 2023 after a six-story apartment building partially collapsed the previous day in Davenport, Iowa.

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He said he made multiple calls to the management company and rarely received a response. Occasionally, he said, the maintenance person would stop by but never quite fix the problem.

He said, “They used to come and put some dam on it.” “But she needed more than that. They didn’t fix things, they just made her right.”

He wonders how the building passed the inspections.

“It was horrible,” Murray said, adding that he felt the conditions were so bad he didn’t want to bring his children into his apartment.

Murray said he moved out a month before his lease expired in March and still has not received his security deposit. He said that while the conditions of the building were deplorable, many residents were like him and had difficulty obtaining the first and last month’s rent, plus a security deposit, to move to another apartment.

Meanwhile, firefighters and other first responders are being credited with saving lives — at great risk to their personal safety, officials said during a news conference Monday morning.

“When something like this happens here, and tragedy strikes, the responders immediately do their job and their job and I can’t thank them enough,” said Mayor Mike Mattson.

The back of the complex is separate from the mixed-use building, which houses both apartments and businesses, Karlsten said. The authorities also found gas and water leaks in the building after the collapse.

Oswald said at a news conference Sunday that work was being done on the building’s exterior at the time of the collapse.

Oswald said reports of bricks falling from the building earlier this week were part of that work and the owner of the building had a permit for the project.

City officials said Sunday that they had several complaints from residents about the needed repairs.

“The tenants have told us the building is about to collapse,” Jennifer Smith, co-owner of Fourth Street Nutrition, which moved into the building this winter, told the Quad City Times.

“It sounds bad, but we’ve been calling the city with complaints since December. Our bathroom broke down in December,” she said.

Smith said the water damage has been evident since they moved into their space. Her co-owner, Deonte Mack, said fire crews were in the building as of Thursday to carry out an inspection.

The Quad City Times reported that nearly 20 permits were filed in 2022 for building repairs, mainly for plumbing or electrical matters, according to the county evaluation office.

The mayor said the building has 84 units, a mix of residential and commercial space.

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