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.
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.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.
"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."
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:
Looks like scaffolding came loose on buildings third floor, which was under construction. No word on injuries pic.twitter.com/wxc0lJwYyi
Here's a better look from the roof of a neighboring apartment building pic.twitter.com/tm5FDt4LJh-- Colin Smith (@ColinWCCO) May 6, 2014
And one more. As you can see the entire east wall collapsed. A lot of debris fell some 30 feet to the street pic.twitter.com/ZqnWTspIS5-- Colin Smith (@ColinWCCO) May 6, 2014
(For more, click to page two.)
Karmel Square Somali Mall shortly after 9:30 this morning. Xcel Energy crews working to restore power in area. pic.twitter.com/GuyFpy5NzS-- Joseph Lindberg (@JosephLindberg) May 6, 2014
Basim Sabri, building owner, says no one hurt. Collapse was new construction for 3&4 floor addition pic.twitter.com/8tJ5DyDFrB-- Dylan Thomas (@DthomasJournals) May 6, 2014
View of Karmel from nearby roof. Inspectors are on the scene pic.twitter.com/4OhWaA8Eg6-- Dylan Thomas (@DthomasJournals) May 6, 2014
Wall fell from 3rd floor, 2910 Pillsbury. No injuries. Building and blk south evac. Media avail @ 10, lake/Pillsbury pic.twitter.com/clr56INOw0-- Minneapolis Police (@MPD_PIO) May 6, 2014
MPDs Insp Loining on scene aft construx wall falls 2 stories.Fast arriving officers evac busy Karmel Mall.No injuries pic.twitter.com/8r7ugGRAEk-- Minneapolis Police (@MPD_PIO) May 6, 2014
@atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at [email protected]
Partial building collapse Pillsbury Ave & Lake. No injuries. Karmel Mall area evacuated. Building inspector on scene pic.twitter.com/geduUPWI5p-- Stephanie Gailhard (@stephifox9) May 6, 2014