When can they return home? 1,000 displaced by crane crash wonder what’s next

Brent Parrish threw together a bag and made the 200-mile drive to his parents’ home in Tennessee after a construction crane collapsed Monday at the apartment building next to his own in Midtown Atlanta, forcing him to evacuate.

Parrish and his fiancé live at Tens on West, which neighbors the West Peachtree Street construction site where the crane malfunctioned and injured four workers.

With soaring hotel prices in the city and no firm date as to when he can return home, he said he feels lucky to have family in Knoxville. But there are still many unknowns.

The most pressing concern for Parrish and the estimated 1,000 other Midtown residents evacuated from their homes and businesses on the block: How will they be impacted financially?

“If we’re out of the building, even for three days or a week, am I still having to pay rent for those times? Am I going to be reimbursed for the hotel, for food, the gas I spend to go to my parents’ house, for clothing, the essentials?” Parrish told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday. “There is all of these things you have to worry about, and there’s no sense of help.”

City leaders said Tuesday there is no timeline for when work to dismantle the malfunctioned crane will be completed. Four people working on the high-rise apartment building, which is being built by Toll Brothers Construction, were injured Monday afternoon when a counterweight on the crane became dislodged and one of the four structures that attached it to the building fell away.

The four injured have since been released from a hospital, according to a spokesperson for Balfour Beatty, the general contractor working at the site. By Tuesday evening, the crane was secured high above street level, and a secondary crane was installed to dismantle the first, the construction company said.

Parrish was not home at the time of the collapse, but his fiancé immediately called him concerned about the noise, which sounded like “an earthquake or bomb going off,” he said. Their minds instantly turned to the recent Midtown shooting inside the Northside Hospital Medical Midtown building, which is about two blocks down the street.

Another Tens on West resident, Ambresh Srivastava, was at home and also heard the noise.

“There was a big bang, like three to four bangs, and our whole building was shaken,” he said.

Thirty minutes later, their complex was evacuated by the fire department.

With no time to gather any belongings, Parrish’s fiancé grabbed only his laptop and their dog before settling on a curb in the rain near the building until Parrish arrived to pick them up.

Their only option at the time was to stay at a nearby hotel, where pets are starting to become as commonplace as visitors. With a rate of $250 a night, it was not a solution they were willing to settle upon long term.

Wood Residential, the complex’s management company, told the AJC that their leaseholders would be eligible for a discounted rate at the Hilton Garden Inn and Homewood Suites “for the duration of the mandatory evacuation.” According to an email sent to residents, management confirmed Balfour Beatty would be paying up to $99 a night.

“The safety and comfort of our residents is our top priority and we are actively communicating with them throughout this ordeal,” the management company said. “We are also exploring other avenues aimed at reimbursing residents for their out-of-pocket expenses.”

Srivastava is staying at the Hilton Garden Inn. He said not being able to make his own meals is very costly.

“Everything is dependent on restaurants,” Srivastava said. “It’s very heavy on our pockets.”

For four hours Tuesday afternoon, management allowed residents to return to the apartment building to collect essential belongings. Parrish and his fiancé took as much as they could and then headed to Tennessee.

“We feel privileged because we’ve got family and the means to stay in a nice hotel and do things we need to do, but there’s definitely folks in the building, you know, college kids or people with low incomes, that may not have the ability to do that,” Parrish said.

A sign on the entrance door to the Tens on West apartment complex in Midtown on Wednesday after the building was evacuated due to a partial crane collapse at a construction site next door.

Credit: Henri Hollis

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Credit: Henri Hollis

Abhishek Malik, a friend and neighbor of Srivastava’s, said the issues were compounded for immigrants who might have left important visa documents in their apartments.

“At first when we evacuated, I didn’t bring anything for myself,” Malik said.

Until the crane is removed, portions of both West Peachtree and Spring streets between 10th and 11th streets, as well as one block of 12th Street, will remain closed. The last time a crane malfunctioned in Midtown, in February 2021 at a 31-story office tower under constriction at West Peachtree and 13th streets, it took nearly two weeks to resolve.

“This is an elevated situation that we find ourselves in, mitigating as a city,” Atlanta police Chief Darin Schierbaum said Tuesday. “Those closures will remain in place for as long as necessary to ensure that vehicles are routed away ... and that citizens that may be walking in the neighborhood take alternate routes.”

Midtown Blue shared this graphic of the street closures around Monday's crane collapse at a construction site in the 1000 block of West Peachtree Street.

Credit: Midtown Blue

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Credit: Midtown Blue

Georgia’s Safety and Health Administration will investigate Monday’s crane failure. OSHA representatives have not responded to questions about the incident, but Balfour Beatty said they are working closely with the agency in its investigation. The cause of the crane failure remains undetermined.

Toll Brothers’ towers

Toll Brothers has two residential towers in development in the 1000 block of West Peachtree Street. The Pennsylvania-based developer topped out construction in early May on Momentum Midtown, a 36-story luxury apartment building with 376 units that’s expected to open early next year. A 34-story student housing tower called Kinetic remains under construction, and its 239 units are slated to open before the 2024 fall semester. — Zach Hansen