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Investigation Shows Improper Renovations Led To Harlem Building Collapse

By Aidan Gardiner | October 17, 2012 3:32pm

HAMILTON HEIGHTS — A preliminary investigation by the Department of Buildings has found that management at a Hamilton Heights building didn’t adhere to safety precautions during a renovation, causing a partial collapse in an apartment that left one tenant seriously injured, officials said.

The 58-year-old man had just walked into the bathroom of his second-floor apartment at 555 W. 151st St. at around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday when the floor buckled beneath him.

The man fell into the apartment below. Emergency crews transported him to St. Luke's Hospital in critical condition.

A preliminary investigation by the DOB found that the supports for the second-floor bathroom had rotted, which left the weight of the bathroom resting on several first-floor partition walls that weren’t meant to support anything, an agency spokesperson said.

These walls were recently removed during a renovation, which seems to have led to the accident, the official added.

The department has issued a full stop work order on the renovation and issued a violation to 3660 Broadway Associates, the building’s management company, “for failing to safeguard all persons and property affected by construction operations.”

All the building’s tenants, except for those who live in the two apartments above and below the collapse, have been allowed to return home, witnesses and officials said.