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  • Staff photos by Bob Hammerstrom

    Crews from Service Master clean out damaged building materials inside the Franklin Street Building, left, Wednesday, January 5, 2011. A New Years eve flood, caused by a broken sprinkler head on the top floor, drained water for more than 20 hours overnight before it was discovered New Years Day when water flowed through a hallway into the adjacent former New Hampshire Public Defender offices at 44 Franklin St., right. Huge dehumidifiers and air tubes block the street as crews clean up the mess.


  • Staff photos by Bob Hammerstrom

    Crews from Service Master clean out damaged building materials inside the Franklin Street Building Wednesday, January 5, 2011. A New Years eve flood, caused by a broken sprinkler head on the top floor, drained water for more than 20 hours overnight before it was discovered New Years Day when water flowed through a hallway into the adjacent former New Hampshire Public Defender offices at 44 Franklin St. Huge dehumidifiers and air tubes block the street as crews clean up the mess.


  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom

    Crews from Service Master clean out damaged building material inside 34 Franklin St. on Jan. 5, 2011, following water damage caused by burst pipes. The building was the site of an industrial accident in which a worker was seriously injured by electric shock on Friday.
Monday, January 10, 2011

New Year’s Eve flood damages Nashua buildings

NASHUA – Pipes burst in an unoccupied building on Franklin Street recently, causing extensive damage in the building, according to fire officials, and flooding the public defender’s office next door.

The building is the former Nashua Corp. plant and later was the site of Nashua Christian Academy.

Cleanup crews have been working feverishly at 34 Franklin St. and anticipate being there a few days more or so. Also, since the building contained asbestos, work to remove the soaked insulation material will likely continue past that.

Pipes in the sprinkler system burst on the afternoon of Dec. 31, Nashua Fire Marshal Rick Wood said.

The resulting deluge caused “significant water damage” throughout the building, Wood said.

Officials suspect the leak began in the fifth floor of the six-story building.

Water also poured horizontally through a catwalk into the adjacent public defender’s office at 44 Franklin St., officials said.

It was that office that contacted authorities.

The building is owned by a developer listed as 34 Franklin Street LLC with a mailing address in New York City. The property is managed by Obadiah Dart of Newbanks.

“At this time, we have no comment on the unfortunate flooding incident which occurred at the property as it is currently under investigation,” Dart said Wednesday in an e-mail response to a reporter’s phone call.

According to city records, the New York company has owned the building since June 2008.

Prior to that, the building was owned by New York real-estate developer Harper Nashua, which owed the city $63,218 in back taxes in 2008, according to the city treasurer/tax collector’s office.

In November 2008, 34 Franklin Street LLC sued neighboring Grace Fellowship Church over breach of contract for allegedly owing back rent and money for operating expenses while the building was owned by Harper. In court papers, 34 Franklin Street LLC was described as a Delaware development company with offices in New York City.

The suit eventually was settled before going to trial, with Grace Fellowship Church receiving a settlement.

The water from the New Year’s Eve day flood triggered a fire alarm at the neighboring building at 44 Franklin St., alerting the landlord, said Becky Michaud, office administrator for the Public Defender Program.

The public defenders moved to Franklin Street in June 2009 and occupy the second floor, which sustained some damage, although the extent hasn’t yet been determined, Michaud said.

“We had to relocate some of the people’s offices,” she said.

The office might need new carpeting because of the damage, she said. Throughout the week, cleanup crews from Service Master cleaning worked to dry out the building.

Sixty to 70 workers from throughout the region assisted, although the company has a local branch in Merrimack, said owner Alan DeGeorge.

“Our primary function is to dry the building out and make sure going forward there’s no moisture or mold issues,” DeGeorge said.

Service Master staff met at the site with Dart on the evening of Jan. 1 and began work there the next day, DeGeorge said.

The extent of the water damage required the company to do “heavy demolition,” dragging carpeting and ceiling tiles out of the part of the building that was finished, but unoccupied, office space, DeGeorge said.

City fire officials were helpful, providing some equipment and closing off the west end of Franklin Street so the company could do its work, he said.

“It’s progressing very well,” DeGeorge said.

It isn’t often that the company will be called in to clean a building so large, he said.

According to city assessing records, the building is nearly 70,000 square feet and has a total value, including the building and the land, of $3.32 million.

“We might have a couple of jobs of this magnitude each year,” DeGeorge said.

Conversely, the company will handle about 1,000 private residences a month, he said.

A separate company with expertise in asbestos removal will be on-site handling that aspect of the cleanup, DeGeorge said.

Patrick Meighan can be reached at 594-6518 or pmeighan@nashuatelegraph.com.