It Started With A Bang: Collapsing Ceiling Rings In The New Year in Clinton Hill

CLINTON HILL – Tenants living in 425 Grand Avenue rang in the New Year with a bang: the ceiling of their lobby collapsed the morning of January 1.

Jacqueline Lewis, 28, lives in an apartment next to the lobby and heard it come down: “We just heard like a crazy loud crash this morning, like someone fell and dropped stuff down the stairs,” Lewis said. “And then we walked out and saw it.”

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Lewis found a hole in the middle of the lobby ceiling, and water and wreckage strewn over the lobby floor.

Steam filled the lobby. Upon seeing the sight, Lewis called 311 who directed her to 911, and the fire department was dispatched to the scene.

German Mora, 34, who lives in the same apartment as Lewis, said that the ceiling looked like it was rotting. “There’s been a leak there constantly throughout the years,” he said.

Both Lewis and Mora said they had called the Superintendent, Franklin Lopez, but they didn’t receive an answer. “He’s not the live-in, they say there’s a live-in, but there’s not a live-in super here,” Lewis said. According to New York City law, buildings with nine or more units are required to have a janitor or superintendent living in the building or within 200 feet of the building. When we called him, he said he’s on vacation.

Danit Abaud, 33, also heard the sound, and she said that she also called the superintendent and management, but was unable to reach either. “We had two different numbers for the super,” Abaud said.

The Department of Building arrived and issued a summons and type C violation (immediately hazardous) ordering Coastline Apartments to fix the issue. Coastline is currently also fighting their tenants in a lawsuit against the Grand Putnam Tenants Association (GPTA), which represents those living in buildings managed by Coastline Apartments.

Abaud, who is a member of the Grand Putnam Tenants Association, added that when the firemen came, they pulled everything from the ceiling and informed them that the steam that fogged the lobby was most likely from a water heater above the ceiling, however, FDNY would only confirm to us that the cause of collapse is still under investigation.

Given the absence of a superintendent or building manager, there was some confusion as to who was going to clean up the mess left by the fallen ceiling. “It was too dangerous to even walk under it,” Abaud said.

Members of the Grand Putnam Tenant Association wrote an email to Coastline Apartments, asking for a building manager to come to the building. An emergency clean-up crew and plumber to clean up the debris and mess left from the collapsed ceiling came to clean up.

When team members from the Department of Buildings showed up the second time to make sure the building was safe, the only sign of the day’s event was the gaping hole in the ceiling of the lobby.

We contacted Coastline for comment but were told that Director Jimmy Ordaz is out of the office until next week and is currently not responding to emails or phone calls. All other calls were not returned. The company is expected to show up in court on February 28th. We’ll keep you posted.

All images by residents at 425 Grand Avenue.

Updated on 9/21/18 to reflect the property is owned Clinton Hill GP LLC, not Lori Casey. 

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