Management aware of Bristol plaza’s roof issues prior to collapse

BRISTOL, R.I. (WPRI) – The roof that collapsed into a vacant unit in a Bristol plaza had failed a load test prior to Tuesday’s storm and repairs were planned, according to the plaza’s property manager, Tony Natale.

Now business owners are voicing concerns about the structural integrity of the Belltower Plaza, which is managed by Salvatore Capital Partners LLC in Dedham, Massachusetts.

“This whole roof collapse is disturbing because I don’t think it had to happen,” Douglas Gablinske, who owns a unit in the plaza, told Target 12. He said he fears a similar collapse in his own business.

“There are a number of leaks throughout that complex,” Gablinske said. “There’s no reason to believe that what happened there can’t happen to my unit.”

This isn’t the first roof collapse at the Belltower Plaza. We’ve learned a roof caved in in a different unit, 7B, in the winter of 2015.

Following the 2015 collapse, several inspections and reports were completed, according to Richard Pimenta, the town of Bristol’s building official.

The Target 12 Investigators obtained a copy of a letter Trinity Engineering Group sent to Natale, the property manager.

According to the letter, dated Aug. 22, 2016, during an inspection in April 2016, “the roof felt spongy.” The letter also cited another firm’s field report from March 2016, which said the trusses are “overstressed.”

According to Trinity Engineering Group’s assessment, “the roof system is only overloaded during the winter when specific weather events allow for snow and ice to build-up on the roof.”

So the firm made several recommendations, which included submitting a repair schedule for the remaining flat roofs, performing load tests, and submitting a winter roofing maintenance plan for the plaza.

Natale was on site Tuesday. He declined an on-camera interview with Target 12, but said the management group was following those recommendations.

According to Pimenta, each unit will be inspected and the town will review inspection reports before businesses in the plaza are allowed to re-open.