It could have been the sales pitch to end all sales pitches. Two Sundays ago, a rep for the Oceancrest Beach Apartments in Hollywood, who had just shown off some available flats in a tower at 3901 S. Ocean Dr., shepherded would-be buyers into an elevator on the 12th floor. The sliding door slammed shut, and the elevator began to move downward. It picked up speed. At some point, the 11 passengers realized the elevator was traveling too fast. They weren't just dropping; they were plummeting.
The elevator hit the springs at the bottom of the shaft with such force that it bounced, sending the passengers sprawling. By the time Hollywood Fire Department medics got there, stunned passengers were stretched out in the building's lobby. "The most serious case had neck and back pain and possible internal injuries," says Capt. Jeffrey Davidson, supervisor at the scene. Three fire department emergency trucks took all the elevator passengers to Memorial Regional and Aventura hospitals.
For residents of the huge Oceancrest complex -- composed of three 15-story towers with a total of 943 apartments -- the incident adds fuel to smoldering complaints about the elevators. The complex, which was recently sold to the Chicago firm of MCZ/Centrum for $143 million, is in the midst of a conversion from rental to condo, and the frequent suspicion among residents is that renters' services are being treated as expendable.
Let's face it: There's big money in the conversion-to-condo business if you can keep costs down. Residents have been told to come up with 10 percent of the purchase price of their apartments by next week (as much as $50,000 for the larger apartments) or to get out no later than October 2005.
"It's always commented on when you're waiting for the elevator," says Mark Singer, a 14th-floor resident who runs a clothing business. "There's always one of the three elevators that's shut down for some reason. It's a constant annoyance."
In fact, the elevator problems are documented. Jack Fisher, an assistant supervisor at Broward's Buildings Department, confirmed residents' complaints that the elevator in question -- like all the others in the complex -- was overdue for inspection. The certificate posted in the elevator expired on August 1, Fisher says (though a more demanding inspection requirement, to test its ability to handle large loads, isn't due until next year).
It's unlikely Oceancrest management was unaware of the expiration date. Residents frequently write comments on the clear plastic covering of inspection certificates, like, "Hello! Time to inspect!"
"It's the responsibility of the building's owner to make sure the inspections are done," Fisher says. "We sent them a letter in May reminding them that all the elevators had to be tested before August 1."
A woman named Stacy from the management office said, "At this time, we can't make any statement."
It's still not clear what happened to the plummeting elevator. Inspectors and Otis elevator service staff were on the scene last week, with lawyers reportedly lurking in the wings.
The elevator is designed to carry a maximum load of 2,000 pounds, Fisher says. "There were supposedly some big people aboard," he adds.
This all gives residents an eerily uncomfortable feeling. "Every time you press the button now, you're aware of it," Singer says. "It's like: Are we going to make it?"
Still no word as to whether any of the elevator passengers are planning to buy condos. Somehow, Tailpipe doubts it.
Though South Florida claims no dry counties, the City of Plantation just got thirstier. Grin's Pub, the burg's long-standing dive bar at the corner of Broward Boulevard and State Road 7, alas, has gone the way of the spittoon and nickel beer. After a pair of hurricanes blew through town in September, the Irish pub lost its shamrock signs -- and apparently its will to live. Patrons will remember Grin's as a comforting haunt for desperados and poetic drunks, a place where Vietnam flashbacks were enacted and Kennedy assassination theories endlessly argued. "On top of all that, you got two pool tables, buck-25 domestic drafts, a decent jukebox, and a waitress who'll wait to close the bar until the drinkers are ready to call it a night (or morning)," as one frequent patron put it.
This leaves the town of 85,000 with Webby's on West Broward Boulevard and Macabi, a cigar bar serving drinks in the Fountains Center. Let's hope they've ordered some more stools.
As told to Edmund Newton
In case you hadn't heard, New Times last week purchased Diana Duyser's 10-year-old grilled cheese sandwich portraying the Virgin Mary for a million smackers. It was delicious. Now, it's time to pay up. So we are offering some important local artifacts that we have gathered over the years. Among them:
1. Ron Jeremy's schlong in a mound of mashed potatoes.
2. Ken Jenne's platform shoes in a cheese enchilada.
3. The Donald's profile in a discarded silicone
4. "One Ball" Bill Kamal's missing testicle in a bowl
of Brussels sprouts.
5. Don King's hair on a porcupine's ass.
6. Rush Limbaugh's OxyContin prescription on
a Form 1040.
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7. Ricky Williams' stash in, well, our stash.
8. Ilene Lieberman's tightly clenched fist in a
stack of unmarked 20s.
To bid, check out Ebay.newtimes.com.