Replacement engineer assigned to make repairs to Billingsley Terrace structure that partially collapsed in Morris Heights

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FDNY combs through the rubble following the partial collapse of a building located at 1915 Billingsley Terrace, which took place on Dec. 11, 2023.
Photo Dean Moses

A New York state-licensed professional engineer based in Manhattan has been suspended after a tactical construction error allegedly caused a seven-story building in Morris Heights to partially collapse on Dec. 11, leading the property owners to hire a new engineer to take over repair work at the site.

On Friday, Dec. 15, Mayor Eric Adams and the city’s Department of Buildings (DOB), announced that the city had suspended professional engineer Richard Koenigsberg from his authority to inspect exterior walls of the city’s buildings to assess their condition, following the partial collapse of a building located at 1915 Billingsley Terrace, after Koenigsberg had misdiagnosed a load-bearing column as a decorative column in plans filed with DOB in June.

According to DOB, permits were still active for the Billingsley Terrace structure at the time of the horrific occurrence. The city is also seeking to permanently revoke the aforementioned authority through the Office Administrative Trials and Hearings.

The DOB Now Public Portal shows that Koenigsberg of Koenigsberg Engineering, located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, was the engineer responsible for the construction mishap, after he used a decorative column as opposed to a weight-bearing column,on the building’s exterior.

“There are over a million buildings across our city, and it is crucial that New Yorkers are safe in every one of those buildings,” Adams said, “But when those who are entrusted to keep us safe cut corners and make catastrophic mistakes, we’re going to take swift action and hold them accountable.”

According to several reports, the building was considered “unsafe” back in 2020 by property management, with construction work to repair the façade of the building only commencing at the midway point of this year.

“Our initial investigation into this collapse has made clear that the engineer involved has no business assessing the exterior walls of buildings in New York City, and we’re taking action to suspend his ability to do so,” Adams added.

According to the DOB, there are more than 1.1 million buildings in New York City, along with more than 540 building inspectors, with the city relying on registered design professionals who are licensed by New York state to inspect structural and façade conditions and related work throughout the five boroughs.

“While we continue to investigate alongside the Department of Investigation and the Bronx District Attorney’s Office, it is our moral and civic duty to immediately suspend this engineer’s designation,” said DOB Commissioner James Oddo. “The engineer failed to recognize a clearly structural column as such and he can no longer be out there making assessments of the structural integrity of exterior walls of New York’s buildings.”

Sparks fly as firefighters saw through debris.Photo Dean Moses

According to Oddo, as part of the investigation, the DOB will be reviewing all of his filings in New York City, which includes a total of 368 Façade Inspection and Safety Program filings in the most recent cycle.

“We got lucky that no one was killed in this collapse. We will not take that risk again,” Oddo added. “We will continue this process until it is complete.”

DOB is currently in the process of “expeditiously auditing” each of Koenigsberg’s work at previous sites from the most recent Local Law 11 Façade Inspection and Safety Program reports, in order to ensure their accuracy.

“The lag time between the finding of the structural defect in February 2020 and the start of the repair of the defect in July 2023 is unacceptable,” said Congress member and U.S. Rep Ritchie Torres via X (Twitter), who represents New York’s 15th congressional district, which includes most of the neighborhoods in the West Bronx.

According to DOB, 1915 Realty LLC, who owns the property of 1915 Billingsley Terrace, has hired a new engineer to take over repair work at the site, but the Bronx Times was unable to reach the property owner for comment regarding the name and work history of the engineer who will be replacing Koenigsberg.

As previously reported by CBS New York, the head officer of 1915 Realty LLC, Jay Zinger, is believed to have a connection with Jacob Zinger, who also works with the same shell company, with the two names possibly pertaining to the same person due to both names matching the same properties, according to the city’s public advocate office.

Jay Zinger was among the list of the city’s 100 worst landlords in 2020, while Jacob Zinger was named to this year’s list, in an annual report released by the city’s public advocate office on Wednesday, Dec. 20.

Despite the disastrous incident, only one individual was injured. The victim was taken to St. Barnabas Hospital, where they were treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

According to DOB, the investigation into the collapse is ongoing, as of press time. Additional enforcement actions may be taken as a result of that investigation.

Reach Steven Goodstein at or (718) 260–8326. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes