One wall on the Apple construction site (top right) can be seen leaning against the neighboring building which houses Builders Booksource and Another Planet Entertainment. Photos: Tracey Taylor.

The semi-collapse of two walls at the site of Berkeley’s emerging new Apple store on Fourth Street at 10am this morning led to a call-out for the Berkeley fire department and the closure of two neighboring businesses.

According to George Kiskaddon, a partner at Builders Booksource, which is next door to the construction site at 1823 Fourth Street where Apple is building its latest Bay Area store, a side and back wall on the site suddenly sank about four feet into the ground and one of them was left leaning against his building.

Builders Booksource has been red-tagged while it awaits the assessment of a structural engineer.

“At about 9:50 there was a very large bang from the building next to ours,” he says. “One wall has been left leaning and bowing into the next door building.”

Assistant chief Sabina Imrie of the Berkeley fire department says they received a 911 call at 10:02am and arrived at 1823 Fourth Street to see a wall on the Apple site leaning against the neighboring building.

“We evacuated the neighboring building as a precautionary measure,” she says. “We called the City building inspector and a contractor on the scene was trying to shore up and secure the walls. There were no injuries.” Chief Imrie adds that the suspicion is that the recent rains may have made the foundations on the Apple site unstable.

It appears that Apple’s construction crew was digging new footings and foundation for the store and the freestanding walls which had been retained from the original Slater Marinoff building suddenly sank into the ground.

A sign posted in the window of Builders Booksource.

Kiskaddon says the floor above his, which is occupied by Another Planet Entertainment, has also been closed while awaiting the arrival of structural engineers to rule on safety questions.

“They have red-tagged the building,” Kiskaddon says, although he says there is no obvious damage to the store. And he adds: “It was dramatic and traumatic.”

Apple is planning a retail space that will total 4,455 square feet and be flush with the neighboring buildings. A partial second level will be added at the rear of the building for back-of-house operations.

The wall from the Apple site fell against the neighboring building leading to its evacuation.
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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...