Karmel Square Somali shopping mall in south Mpls partially collapses [PHOTOS]

The scene at Karmel Mall this morning.

The scene at Karmel Mall this morning.

Around 8:45 this morning, a third-floor addition under construction at the Karmel Square shopping mall at 2910 Pillsbury Ave. in south Minneapolis collapsed, knocking out power in the area and resulting in the evacuation of about 25 people from the building. No injuries were reported.

The shopping mall houses about 150 Somali businesses and is owned by Basim Sabri, a controversial developer who was the subject of our 2007 feature story about his effort to rebuild his reputation after he was released from federal prison.

See also:
Basim Sabri, man behind pro-Abdi Warsame fliers, says he prefers Hitler to Lilligren

Here's an excerpt from that feature illustrating why today's accident raised red flags:
Sabri Properties has also been repeatedly cited for violating city codes and ordinances. Last month, for instance, the company was ordered by the city's regulatory services department to halt renovations of a building on the 3000 block of Pleasant Avenue. An inspector determined that work was being done without the proper permits and by unlicensed contractors. It was the company's third warning on this particular property.

"He just kind of goes forward with his plans regardless of what the approvals might be," says Sixth Ward City Council member Robert Lilligren, who represents the Whittier neighborhood. "I would characterize it as preferring to seek forgiveness rather than approval."

Sabri insists that such citations are an inevitable part of doing business. "If you are going to be a statue in the mall, you're going to expect some pigeon shit," he says. "This is pigeon shit."
But this afternoon, Minneapolis city spokesperson Casper Hill confirmed to us that Sabri did indeed have a building permit for the third-floor addition, which will reportedly serve as an Islamic prayer center.

Minneapolis Police Department spokesman Scott Seroka told us it's his understanding that a city building inspector would be checking to make sure the rest of the building is structurally sound before allowing Karmel businesses to reopen. A call to the Minneapolis Fire Department seeking information on how that inspection turned out wasn't immediately returned.

Here are some photos of the collapse shared on Twitter by local reporters and the MPD:
-- Colin Smith (@ColinWCCO) May 6, 2014 (For more, click to page two.)

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at [email protected]