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Atrium building reopens after leak

The Atrium building in downtown Clearwater, which was shuttered for 11 days after an extensive water leak, got the okay to reopen Monday afternoon, city officials said.

Repairs made by property managers were approved by fire and building inspectors. The reviews finished early Monday afternoon, and property managers were given approval to open, said city development services director Jeff Kronschnabl.

"We're good to go," said Fire Marshal Joel Gray.

Kronschnabl said tenants began moving back in Monday afternoon. Property managers could not be reached for comment.

The Atrium building, 601 Cleveland St., was damaged Sept. 9 when work by unlicensed plumbers started an overnight leak that sent water seeping through several floors of the nine-story building.

The leak occurred when a pipefitting on a sixth-floor toilet cracked days after it was installed by Ecotech, a Palm Harbor company that sells water-saving bathroom fixtures.

The company faces a $500 fine and a possible criminal investigation because it is not a licensed plumbing contractor. City officials predicted the building, which is anchored by SunTrust Bank, would be out of service for 10 days or more after the leak.

After the pipefitting cracked, water sprayed ceiling tiles, drenching them until they fell to the floor. The tiles then clogged a drain, sending water flowing down a hallway and into a mechanical room. There, the water affected an electrical channel, destroying much of the building's main electrical system. The building's 28 tenants, which employ about 250 people, had to find temporary homes or work from other area branch offices.

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