Construction work on 321 Adams St., a former Lehigh storage facility that is being converted into Brinker Lofts apartments, caused street closures starting at around 10 a.m. to address the possibility of parts of the roof falling down onto the street, according to Deven Knoll, a captain of the Bethlehem Fire Department.
The road closures include East Fourth Street from New Street to Webster Street as well as Adams Street itself which is closed from East Morton Street by the Farrington Square apartments down to its intersection at the Greenway path, where the construction project has been worked on.
Though the building is showing no signs of deterioration, according to Knoll, a brick falling from the height of the building would be fatal.
Knoll said as the construction crew was working to remove the roof, one of the joists fell against a wall. The unreinforced masonry building, combined with the heavy timber leaning up against it, is what could cause bricks to fall.
At 12:30 p.m., a crane that was brought on site removed a piece of collapsed structure from the roof, and the fire department is continuing to evaluate the situation.
“It’s a step-by-step process,” Knoll said.
Dave Dancho, a 63-year Bethlehem resident, watched from the corner of Adams and E 4th St. as the crane was being operated.
Because Dancho is a local, he has seen the development of the 321 Adams project over time, and said something he saw last week worried him.
“After they were pressure washing, there were bricks falling off the building,” he said. “It’s a grand old building, it’s been around for a long time.”
Connor Cragon, ’19, who lives at 328 Adams Street, said though the front entrance to his building was blocked, he was still able to access it through the back door. Cragon said although it might be a little more difficult to get around due to the road closures, he understands it is for safety reasons.
“I really can’t complain too much because obviously they are trying to keep us safe, so I want to definitely respect what they think could happen, especially if they think (the building) can have some constructional issues,” Cragon said.
Lehigh University Police chief Jason Schiffer sent out a warning to the campus community at 10:10 a.m. advising members to avoid the area until issues can be safely addressed.
Cragon hopes they can resolve the issue and find a safe way to fix it.
“I’m just hoping it will be resolved relatively quickly,” Cragon said.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.