Engineer Accused of Negligence for Bronx Building Collapse Gets 2-Year Suspension

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The engineer who inspected the façade of the seven-story building that collapsed in the Bronx in December agreed to pay a $10,000 fine and accepted a two-year suspension after the city accused him of negligence, Mayor Eric Adams announced Thursday.

Richard Koenigsberg was hit with the penalties after reaching a settlement with the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) after officials claimed he misdiagnosed a structural column at 1915 Billingsley Terrace months before a corner of the building collapsed.

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The DOB was seeking to permanently strip Koenigsberg of his ability to inspect façades but the settlement — which is not an admission of guilt — dropped that to a voluntary two-year suspension and calls off a disciplinary hearing in the city’s administrative courts.

Koenigsberg declined to comment, saying only that he was on vacation.

Adams said in a statement that public safety is his top priority and that the penalties “should serve as a reminder to all construction professionals about the importance of carrying out their duties professionally, competently and, most importantly, safely.”

But no one is out of the woods yet, since DOB officials say they are continuing to investigate other causes of the collapse. Plus, Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark and the city Department of Investigations are also conducting criminal probes.

A spokesperson for Clark’s office said the penalties against Koenigsberg have nothing to do with the DA’s investigation.

“We are still actively investigating the criminal side,” the spokesperson said.

And the ordeal is far from over for more than 100 tenants displaced from their homes by the Dec. 11 collapse. 

The seven-story Morris Heights building partially collapsed on the afternoon of Dec. 11. While no one was injured, it displaced residents in the building’s 46 apartments.

The city permitted about half of them to return to their apartments in January, but some families are still staying in city shelters more than two months later, according to the Legal Aid Society, which is suing landlord David Kleiner and several of his business partners to make necessary repairs to the property.

“While we are pleased to see some degree of accountability in this horrific event, every day that the landlord continues to fail to address the open violations in the building, our clients and all tenants in the building, along with those who are still displaced, continue to suffer and face instability in their daily lives,” Jessica Bellinder, a Legal Aid housing attorney, wrote in an email.

But a day after the incident, the DOB announced it suspended Koenigsberg’s authority to inspect building façades after it said he categorized a load-bearing column at the building as simply “decorative.”

“Since the collapse occurred, our enforcement team has worked tirelessly — investigating all of the factors that could have contributed to the collapse, completing numerous field inspection sweeps of other properties across the city associated with the responsible parties at this building, and pushing the landlords to make needed repairs to 1915 Billingsley Terrace,” DOB Commissioner James Oddo said in a statement.

As part of the settlement, the city will give Koenigsberg four months to wind down his remaining work, which will be reviewed by another engineering firm, before his suspension kicks in. 

The city also audited all of Koenigsberg’s 368 inspections filed in 2023 and notified the state about its findings and the settlement. 

Abigail Nehring can be reached at anehring@commercialobserver.com.