Building collapses in Fells Point, ties up Eastern Avenue traffic

Eastern Avenue was closed in both directions at Broadway after a building collapsed Tuesday morning, Baltimore police and fire officials said.

According to state tax records, the building, the former Eastern Auto Supply Co., is owned by 504 South Broadway, LLC -- the address of the Ritz Cabaret.

The cabaret owners planned to open a steakhouse, said Jason Sullivan, the executive director of Fells Point Main Street. The owners could not be reached for comment.

City firefighters responded at 8:45 a.m. to a report of a building in dangerous condition, said Chief Kevin Cartwright, a department spokesman. When crews arrived, they discovered the building had already collapsed and blocked off the roadway, according to Cartwright.

No injuries were reported, and there was no indication that the building was occupied, he said.

Fire officials contacted the Baltimore Housing department, and an inspector called for the remainder of the building to be taken down, according to agency spokeswoman Tania Baker. Contractors were at the site, she said.

The property had one minor exterior violation for defective shutters, paint, trim and steps, Baker said. In 2009, there were 11 citations related to sanitation and one for work outside the scope of a permit.

A neighbor said he had complained several times about unsafe conditions at the building to housing inspectors. John Craan, a tenant representative for the Polish National Alliance retirement community on Eastern Avenue, said the first floor of the building was being renovated, but it had been vacant for years.

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