Crews on scene of construction site collapse in Minneapolis

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Police are on the scene of a retail establishment in South Minneapolis where a construction addition on the top floor has collapsed.

KSTP reports that the incident happened at the Karmel Square Somali Mall, located at Pillsbury Avenue and Lake Street. It houses about 150 Somali businesses. FOX 9 reports that crews were in the process of framing the second floor in the addition atop the building when the roof collapsed. Minneapolis police said a windy day could be to blame.

The Star Tribune said that the incident happened around 8:45 a.m. Tuesday. The newspaper said that about 25 people were removed from the building, where many of the businesses were about to open. Police Inspector Todd Loining said no construction workers were there at the time. The shops will remain closed until city officials can declare the area safe. The collapse initiated a “kind of a domino effect that knocked over everything,” Loining said.

Karmel Square is managed by Sabri Properties, owned by developer Basim Sabri. Sabri told KARE that roof trusses were delivered and set in place, but apparently not secured correctly. He maintains that the incident created a lot of noise, but not danger or damage. Neighbors told KARE that the project has been controversial in the neighborhood.

WCCO reports that resident said the addition was intended to be an Islamic center, with another media report describing the addition as a "prayer room."

Fire crews said there were no injuries involving the construction crews at the site, but a spokesman for the Minneapolis Police Department said the building and the block to the south were evacuated as a precaution. Xcel Energy is on the scene to shut off electricity.

In its story, the Star Tribune noted that in recent years, developer Basim Sabri "...has started construction without permits, taken the city to court and had enough tangles with inspectors that properties he controls make up half the city’s watch list of chronic code violators."

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