STAMFORD – Laurel shopped carefully for an apartment for herself and her two elementary school-aged daughters.
Newly divorced, she wanted a place that would make her girls happy and be easy to maintain, since it would be the first home she’d manage on her own.
She fell in love with Allure, a 22-story, 435-unit waterfront high-rise in Harbor Point, a massive development project that has redrawn Stamford’s South End.
Everything was new at Allure, which opened the year before Laurel moved there in 2020. She leased an apartment on the fourth floor, just below the “amenities level” that offered outdoor space, a pool and barbecue grills.
“The kids swam in the pool; they met other kids and played Hide ‘n’ Seek and Guess Who; we barbecued. They could take off their masks and be outdoors. They said they felt like they were on vacation,” said Laurel, a teacher who did not want to use her last name to protect her privacy.
“For a single parent, it was such a win. They were in a safe environment that they looked forward to coming home to, and it was one step away from being in a house like they were used to,” Laurel said. “I had never lived in a luxury high-rise. It had everything I needed.”
But when she tried to pull into the Pacific Street apartment complex on the afternoon of Feb. 1, the garage was blocked. Allure residents were gathered outside.
“I rolled down my window and asked them what was going on. They said part of the building collapsed,” Laurel said. “I couldn’t believe it. I thought, ‘This is a brand-new building.’”
She would learn that a 15-by-20-foot portion of the patio on the fifth-floor amenities level where her children played had fallen into the garage on the fourth floor where she parked.
A couple of weeks later an engineer from a firm hired by the city to investigate the cause of the collapse told the Board of Representatives that the fallen slab was missing concrete-reinforcing cables, even though the design drawings called for them.
Beyond that, there is evidence that cables may be missing in another area, the engineer told city representatives. If so, the scope of the investigation must be expanded to prove that cables are in fact reinforcing concrete slabs as designed, the engineer said.
Engineers for Harbor Point developer Building & Land Technology, which built and owns Allure, have said the structure is sound and the collapse was an isolated incident.
But there are problems at one of the original Harbor Point apartment complexes, The Lofts on Henry Street, a converted lock factory that Building & Land Technology opened in 2010 and has since sold to GAIA Real Estate of New York.
The Lofts building is undergoing foundation repairs because it is sinking. Some of the tenants were told to move out last summer and the rest have to be gone by April 30.
Laurel said things were adding up.
“As all of this news got out, you felt like you couldn’t go anywhere in Harbor Point and not hear people talking about this,” she said. “Suddenly a beautiful building didn’t feel safe anymore.”
She talked to her father, a structural engineer, who noted all the lally columns – temporary steel beams used to hold up heavy weight during repairs – installed in the Allure parking garage.
“He said, ‘This is not good; there is no way this will be fixed soon,’” Laurel said. “I didn’t feel safe anymore. My lease was up … so I decided to move out of Harbor Point.”
She took an apartment in a downtown building with a pool and outdoor space for her girls.
At Allure this week, a note went around that tenants are forming a coalition to address safety concerns and demand reimbursements for amenity and parking fees, since part of the outdoor area and garage now are off limits.
A Building & Land Technology spokesman said Tuesday the developer takes residents’ concerns very seriously.
“At Allure, third-party structural engineers as well as City of Stamford officials have repeatedly stated that the building is safe for residents,” the spokesman said. “We continue to work with the City of Stamford building officials and their engineers to confirm what exactly caused the slab to collapse.”
The developer has a team on site “to address any issue,” he said.
“We encourage residents to share any concerns they may have and thank them for their patience, understanding, and cooperation throughout this process,” the spokesman said.
Laurel said she is sad to leave Allure.
“From my view, there were basically three groups of people there – young professionals who lived alone or with a roommate, divorced parents like me, and brand-new parents,” she said. “It felt comfortable. I fully intended to stay there.”