5 Months After Collapse, Residents of Hackensack Building Return Home

By Brian Thompson
|  Tuesday, Dec 21, 2010  |  Updated 6:47 AM EDT
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Residents Allowed To Return Home 5 Months After Collapse Cripples Building

NBCNewYork

Part of a parking garage collapsed in New Jersey.

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Residents Allowed To Return Home 5 Months After Collapse Cripples Building

Residents of a badly damaged Hackensack building were allowed to move back into their homes today. In July, the complex's underground garage collapsed leaving the building unsafe for its residents. While officials were able to open up the first 65 units this afternoon, the city is still investigating the cause of the collapse. Brian Thompson brings us the story.
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 A certificate of occupancy was issued late Monday afternoon for the high rise apartment building in Hackensack that experienced a cave in of its front entrance-way into its underground parking garage this past summer.

No one was injured, but residents of the 161 unit building were forced to evacuate and have been living outside of their homes since the July 16th incident.

The certificate of occupancy covers just 65 of the units, as workers are still rebuilding the garage and front portico that will fully complete repairs. But the building is now certified as fully stabilized, and Hackensack's Fire Inspector even came in on a vacation day to give his 'OK.'

Debbie Presslaff, 58, was the first tenant to get back in her unit. "It feels great," she said as she opened the door to the applause of staff.

They took care of us," Presslaff said of the owner, Equity Residential of Chicago, the nation's largest apartment owner. "They did a helluva job," said Ed Dresher, 96, who has lived in the building for 11 years.

Equity is hoping to have all 85 returning tenants in their units by mid-January, and all 157 units available for occupancy by this spring. There were 145 occupied units when the garage collapsed, and 60 decided not to return.

No cause for the collapse has yet been determined.

Hackensack inspected every high rise garage in the city and Building Official Joe Mellone said two of them were closed for some period of time to make code repairs.

Follow Brian Thompson on Twitter @brian4NY

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