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The battle over one South Slope development is no longer just business, it’s personal.
A bitter, two-year-old dispute over construction in the fast-growing part of the neighborhood has grown into the ultimate grudge match between the builder of a four-story, luxury condo and the couple next door, who charge that their home was damaged during the condo’s construction.
The pair, Mimi Chung and Christopher Grimaldi, wants the developer to pay for thousands of dollars in repairs and has waged a PR war that they say won’t stop until they get the fix-up funds.
“We want people to be aware of the kind of builder that they are dealing with,” said Chung, describing disputes ranging from a lawsuit filed by the developer when the couple refused to let workers use their backyard as a staging area, to expletive-laden emails exchanged after workers tore a 12-foot gash in their two-story home — and then covered it with the wrong color siding.
Chung and Grimaldi have done more than merely complain to the Department of Buildings — which they, and their neighbors, have done so often that the DOB temporarily stopped following up on repeat complaints. Only two of their 24 complaints resulted in violations against the builder, Louis Sellamage.
Chung and Grimaldi have also created a Web site, www. 229vs231.com, and are even shoving flyers into the hands of potential condo buyers.
Sellamage has fired right back, threatening a lawsuit for defamation.
“Each and every public statements regarding this condominium is being noted,” Marc Coupey, Sellamage’s lawyer, told Chung and Grimaldi in a letter that warned of an immediate lawsuit if “further falsehoods” were published.
But even so, a lawyer for the couple, also a community activist, called the couple’s aggressive anti-PR a model for other homeowners in Brooklyn.
“The residents bargained in good faith and were let down,” said John Burns, lawyer and South South Slope neighborhood group founder.
“This is a good example of how to fight back.”
|What’s happening on 16th Street? It depends on whether you ask homeowners Mimi Chung and Christopher Grimaldi, who live at 229 16th St., or Louis Sellamage, the developer of the new building next door, at 231 16th St. If good fences make good neighbors, perhaps these people should put up some chain link.|
|They said...||He said...|
|Workers trespassed onto our roof and used it as a storage shed.||A court settlement gave us the right to work there.|
|A hole was dug under our foundation, letting rainwater seep in. The repair was done shoddily.||That problem is fixed.|
|A 12-foot gash was torn in our home and replaced with siding of the wrong color.||No comment.|
|Sellamage promised to power-wash our property yet never did.||No comment.|
|Sellamage spilled concrete all over our shutters and we had to replace them ourselves.||No comment.|
©2007 Community Newspaper Group
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