STAMFORD – Near one of the entrances to The Lofts, a 225-unit luxury apartment complex in Harbor Point, a section of the building appears to be drooping.
On the first floor of the section, space has appeared between a door and its frame. On three of the remaining five floors, large portions of windows are boarded. A chain-link fence has been erected to keep people away.
Little has been said publicly about what’s going on at The Lofts, converted into a residential building from what was Yale & Towne, a lock factory that put Stamford on the map as a manufacturing center in the early 1900s.
The building at 200 Henry St. put Stamford on the map again when it opened as The Lofts in 2010. It was the original apartment complex at Harbor Point, a massive remake of the city’s South End by developer Building & Land Technology.
But, late last May, two-thirds of Lofts tenants were told they had to move out by the end of July, and now the remaining third must be gone by April 30.
“From time to time, there are aspects of a historical structure that must undergo maintenance and restoration to preserve structure that was laid out many years ago,” the property manager told Lofts tenants by email last year, and “the building will be undergoing a comprehensive renovation project.”
This month, the property manager told the remaining tenants in a letter that “the scope of the work has increased significantly.”
The only other public information has come from the city’s chief building official, who said last summer that The Lofts is sinking, evidenced by a tilting frame, cracking windows, and gaping door frames.
BLT built The Lofts but sold it to a New York company, GAIA Real Estate, in 2016. GAIA this week did not respond to questions about the condition of the building.
Now the chief building official – along with the city’s chief engineer, director of public safety, director of operations, land-use chief, and fire marshal – are set to appear Tuesday before a committee of Stamford lawmakers seeking answers about The Lofts and Harbor Point luxury high-rise Allure.
At the 22-story Allure at 850 Pacific St., part of the pool patio collapsed into the parking garage on Feb. 1. No one was hurt.
During the meeting city representatives expect to hear from tenants such as Megumi Yamada, whose email to them has been entered into the public record.
Yamada wrote representatives to say she was forced to move out of her apartment in Lofts building 1 in July, but was offered another apartment in Lofts building 3. Now she has to leave that, too.
She’s been offered an apartment in a different Harbor Point building but the rent is much higher and she has to pay moving expenses, Yamada said. She asked representatives to “thoroughly investigate the responsibility of the management company and the developer.”
When she lived in building 1, Yamada said, “there were always large cracks in the walls and ceilings in the corridors. The cracks were repaired by the maintenance team each time, but gradually the cracks started to appear more often than the maintenance team could repair them.”
On the first floor of building 1, the corridor was “bumpy,” she said, and the barbecue pit “was always puddled with water.”
When she moved to building 3 she noticed that the floor is slightly sinking and “it looks like the tops of the large wooden pillars” are leaning.
The South End, where BLT has built about 4,000 apartments so far, is surrounded by Stamford Harbor and Long Island Sound. The area is below sea level and sits on sandy soil that was contaminated by centuries of industrial use. BLT began remediating the area about 15 years ago.
Lauren Meyer, spokesperson for Mayor Caroline Simmons, said city officials are receiving reports from two consultants, DeSimone Engineering and GZA Geoenvironmental, hired by Lofts owner GAIA to investigate the problems.
Meyer provided a Feb. 17 update from GZA on the settlement occurring at The Lofts.
It has caused cracking in the interior and exterior walls of two buildings, and some windows can no longer be closed, according to GZA. A structural grade beam has also cracked, the letter states.
Some exterior columns and floor slabs have been monitored since June 2020, but their original elevations are unknown, so the results only show how much things have settled since the monitoring began – up to 1 inch in certain areas.
Other observations indicate that settling occurred between the 1918 construction work and the 2010 renovation. Some ground floor slab settling occurred in the last two or three years, the letter states.
GZA is working with DeSimone to evaluate the effect on the integrity of the buildings. “The exact cause of the measured settlement is currently unknown,” the letter states.
Meyer provided a Feb. 2 letter from DeSimone stating that Lofts building 3 is “structurally stable.”
She also provided documents from BLT and its engineers and architects attesting that the proper final inspections were conducted in 2010, in compliance with building plans, government approvals, and the law.
To attend the Board of Representatives virtual meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, visit:
www.zoom.com – Webinar ID: 838 8172 5861
or by telephone at 1-646-558-8656, webinar ID 838 8172 5861.