9 families evacuated following partial collapse of Essex House i - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

9 families evacuated following partial collapse of Essex House in Holyoke

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The Essex House in Holyoke has begun to collapse. The Essex House in Holyoke has begun to collapse.
HOLYOKE, MA (WSHM) - Holyoke officials continue to figure out what comes next for the old Essex House after a portion of the building collapsed Thursday morning.

Plans were in place to take the building down, however it had a mind of its own Thursday afternoon when the partial collapse occurred.

CBS 3 obtained surveillance video from a local business capturing the moments parts of the historic Holyoke icon came crashing down.

The side of the 134-year old-building fell just before noontime sending a jolt through the downtown area.

"It shook really loud and hard and when I looked outside I saw all the material falling from the building," said Jose Bow, a neighboring business owner.

However the incident did not come as a surprise for some, including Maria Ferrera whose business was next to the Essex House but forced to move due to the building's deteriorating conditions.

"I knew this was going to happen I feel so bad," Ferrera said.

There has been an ongoing debate for quite some time on what should happen with the future of the building.

Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse called out the city council Thursday night saying had they acted sooner, Thursday's collapse could have been avoided.

"If the city council just approved to take it down this wouldn't have happened," Morse said. 

City councilors voted to tear down the Essex House, which was once a 100-room hotel, back in September

City council president Kevin Jourdain said the council had approved $1.3 million dollars back on Jan. 7 to go toward the demolition.

"We really hope that there are no further hold ups or delays in getting this building taken down and we also need to hold the people that created this situation responsible," Jourdain said. 

In the meantime, nine families have been evacuated from an adjacent apartment building.

The Red Cross is currently assisting them.

"We've worked with the landlord and the city and we're going to take care of housing the people through the weekend until they figure out how long they will be displaced," said Mary Nathan, disaster program manager of the American Red Cross.

Those residents could be displaced anywhere from a few nights to a few weeks.

Crews are expected to show up at the Essex House Friday with demolition materials.

Mayor Morse said that the contractor took ownership of the building and the financial burden will fall on them. 

The contractor has been making preparations to demolish the building for the last couple weeks.

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