When emergency crews showed up at the old Formatron at 128 Main Street Extension Monday just after 9 a.m. for the report of a building collapse, Michael Johnson couldn’t believe it.
“We were here working and the next thing we know, fire trucks, ambulance and police cars show up,” Johnson said.
A principal in the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Middletown Holdings, which is demolishing the remaining half of the old beauty supply manufacturing corporation, Johnson says the “collapse,” was expected.
W. Rodriguez of Middletown, who was at the site culling aluminum and copper from the wreckage, witnessed the roof falling down just as one of the workers was pulling out a beam with the forklift.
The sound was very loud, Rodriguez said, which he supposed made witnesses call 911, suspecting a building collapse.
“It was an explosion,” he said. “There was a line of glass [windows] which is what made it so loud.”
Lately, Johnson said, “a lot of kids in the neighborhood have been smashing the windows and stealing” items like tools after climbing inside.
In the area where the roof came down, Johnson says, “a column had snapped over the weekend. The roof started to sag, so we yanked it out.”
Johnson said he was worried kids would be hanging out there over the long Fourth of July weekend.
“One four-inch column snapped during the week, so we yanked the column out so the roof would come down. I was concerned about its safety.”
Johnson says once the demolition is complete, owners NJ Holdings LLC and Middletown Holdings hope all the land can be turned into a parking lot. The historic structure, built in 1870, with an addition in 1890, will be converted into 20,000 square feet of office space.
The portion of the building at 10 Cooley Ave., is being considered for a special permit to convert a portion of an existing building from warehouse/manufacturing to a public assembly space, where Narcotics Anonymous meetings could be held.
On Wednesday, the Zoning Board of Appeals will consider the appeal of a decision by the Zoning Enforcement Officer about an unlawful use of land and structure and conducting public assembly meetings without zoning approval.
That meeting takes place at 5:30 p.m. in Council Chambers.