Partial building collapse at Karmel Square in south Minneapolis - KMSP-TV

Partial building collapse at Karmel Square in south Minneapolis

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photo by Stephanie Gailhard / Fox 9 News photo by Stephanie Gailhard / Fox 9 News

No injuries were reported following a partial building collapse at Karmel Square on Pillsbury Avenue in south Minneapolis on Tuesday, but many are wondering how such a significant structural failure could have happened.

"I was trying to get into a restaurant and get some food, but I saw them coming down," witness Iphrahim Afrah told Fox 9 News.

The collapse was reported at 9 a.m. Tuesday during the construction of a third-floor addition at the Somali mall near the intersection of Lake Street. VIEW PHOTOS

"I was thinking to myself that someone died," Afrah admitted.

Minneapolis fire officials said all construction workers at the site escaped unharmed. The Karmel Square block was evacuated and a building inspector was brought to the scene.


Building owner Basim Sabri said framers improperly tied one end of the trusses, which caused the timber of the rooftop construction project to fall like dominoes.

"Main thing is: No one got hurt," Sabri said. "Everybody is okay."

Sabri is leading his own expansion, which is not illegal; however, he is not a licensed contractor.

Construction on the building was being done by employees of Sabri Properties. Sabri insisted he had all necessary permits for construction of the mall expansion. City officials confirmed the expansion appeared to be on the up and up, but Sabri has overseen construction without the proper permits in the past.

"There's been nothing about this particular property on the 3rd floor with complaints about work that had fallen apart," Douglas Kress, with the City of Minneapolis, told Fox 9 News.

The large complex on Lake Street caters to Somali businesses, and its owner is no stranger to controversy. In fact, Sabri even spent time in federal prison for bribing an elected official. Inspectors have also issued citations at his many properties, including at Karmel Mall, in the past. 

Sabri blamed the wind for forcing the collapse, but said he hopes to resume work on the roof as soon as Wednesday if the city gives him the go-ahead.

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