Neglected Pipes Caused the New Year’s Day Lobby Ceiling Collapse in Clinton Hill

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Damaged pipes led to the ceiling in the lobby of 425 Grand Avenue to collapse on New Year’s Day.

According to NYC Department of Buildings, the pipes had been leaking water into the area between the ceiling and the floor above. A resident living above the lobby said that the leak affected the walls in her residence, including a crack in her bedroom wall caused by the most recent incident. The fire department always knocks her door when the lobby ceiling leaked in the past, she says.

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While the DOB has issued a Class 1 type C (immediately hazardous) violation order to the building, which is owned by Coastline Real Estate Apartments, DOB representative said that the violation does not mean that there is a direct health or safety threat to the tenants living in the building. An immediately hazardous violation order means that the condition requires immediate repair.

On January 3, Coastline Property Manager Director, Jimmy Ordaz sent a letter to the entire apartment building. In his letter, Ordaz said that the cause of the collapse was a crack in the steam riser above the ceiling and that a permanent fix had been made to the steam riser. Ordaz added that the ceiling was going to be kept open in order for the ceiling to dry out. He also said that professionals have been retained to make sure that no mold has formed before the ceiling is rebuilt.

When contacted for comments, Ordaz said, “Maintenance issues of many types occur at all buildings throughout the year. We take proactive steps where possible and professional reactive steps where necessary to address them.”

On January 5, Andrea Campbell, a member of the Grand Putnam Tenant Association, and a tenant in the building said that the lobby filled with steam.

“Coastline says they had a plumber fix it, but it seems like they didn’t,” Campbell said. Campbell added that Coastline had a mold specialist in the building and that there was a High Efficiency Particle Air (HEPA) filter machine used to dry out the ceiling.

Despite the use of HEPA, Karma Moyet Johnson, another tenant in the building said that you can still smell the mold in the building. Other than the letter sent by Ordaz, Coastline has not communicated with tenants about the steps that are being taken to fix the ceiling, residents say.

As of January 8, the ceiling of the lobby had been completely ripped out, with workers cleaning debris from the work.

DOB Deputy Press Secretary, Abigail Kunitz, said that building owners with violations have to attend their scheduled Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings/Environmental Control Board (OATH/ECB) hearing in order to correct building violations.

“If an owner wants to be proactive, he or she can perform the necessary work prior to the hearing and present documentation to the judge that the violation has been corrected,” Kunitz said.

Coastline has another open ECB violation. Based on the DOB Buildings Information Search system, the company has a Class 3 (less severe) Open-No Compliance Recorded violation from January 2016 for excessive construction debris accumulations at the rear of the basement of 425 Grand Avenue. The company currently owes $100 out of the $200 penalty imposed on that violation.

Fines for this current violation can be as high as $25,000. The hearing date for the current violation is February 26.

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