City Expands Probe to Target 6 or 7 Stamford High-Rises For Possible Safety Violations

Share

TwitterFacebookCopy LinkPrintEmail

STAMFORD – The city’s concerns about the safety of apartment high-rises in the Harbor Point development have expanded to include several more buildings.

On Friday evening Mayor Caroline Simmons posted on the city’s website a letter to the co-president of Building & Land Technology, the development company that owns the buildings, seeking access to Allure – where a slab of concrete collapsed last month – and six or seven other high-rises.

“The city will require access to inspect the … locations to determine whether additional inconsistencies exist between submitted documentation and actual conditions that might implicate public safety concerns,” Simmons wrote.

It is a reference to a preliminary finding at Allure that the 15-by-20-foot slab that fell from a patio deck into the parking garage was missing concrete-reinforcing cables, even though the design called for them.

Simmons said she wants BLT Co-President Ted Ferrarone to give “right of access” to the city’s contracted engineer, hired to do an independent field review of Allure – and now other buildings.

“Details related to the scope of work of these inspections will be submitted to you next week,” Simmons wrote.

She asked that Ferrarone notify residents within 24 hours that an engineer will be working in their buildings.

In his preliminary findings, the engineer, John Cocca with Wiss Janney Elstner Associates, raised questions ab0ut the area of collapse at Allure, saying it was not clear that “all the cables that are supposed to be there are actually there.” 

If the cables are not there, Cocca said at a Board of Representatives meeting, “we would have to extend the scope of the investigation to prove that cables are not missing from other areas of the building.” 

Now there are questions about other buildings.

The number of buildings Simmons wants inspected is not clear because one of the addresses she provided, 800 Pacific St., does not exist in the city’s tax base.

If Simmons meant 880 Pacific St., it would mean she wants Cocca to inspect Escape, a 435-unit high-rise that is the same size and similar in design to Allure at 850 Pacific St.

The other buildings Simmons listed are Postmark at 301 Commons Park South; Infinity at 201 Commons Park South; 101 Park Place at 101 Washington Blvd.; NV at 100 Commons Park North; Opus at 900 Pacific St.; and a 182-unit building at 2 Harbor Point Road South.

The buildings range in size from 47 units to 435 units. The oldest one, 101 Park Place, was built in 2009, according to city tax records, and the newest – the building at 2 Harbor Point Road South – was built in 2020.

Simmons’ office did not return a request for more information Friday evening.

A spokesman for BLT did not return a request for comment.

Nearly two months after the concrete slab fell into the Allure parking garage on the afternoon of Feb. 1, information that is emerging is raising more questions.

One is why no one called 911, even though the 300-square-foot slab made a big noise and blocked part of the parking garage. No one was injured and no property was damaged.

Audio of Stamford Fire Department phone calls and an Incident Detail Report, released this week, reveal confusion about what happened and when.

A cable TV news producer called the fire department at 3:16 p.m. saying she’d been sent an email with a photo showing fallen concrete in the Allure garage. The fire dispatcher had no information because no one had called 911 to request a response.

The incident report shows that the fire department’s Unit 2 was enroute that afternoon at 3:55 and 41 seconds, and arrived at precisely the same time. So there was zero time between leaving for the scene and being on scene.

The same was true for Unit 3, which was enroute at 3:55 and 42 seconds and arrived at the identical time.

A deputy fire marshal is listed as getting assigned to the call, being enroute and arriving at the scene all at 3:55 and 34 seconds.

Neither BLT nor Simmons’ office has responded to questions about why 911 was not called, and why the fire marshal, deputy fire marshal and two assistant fire chiefs responded to the partial building collapse, but no firefighters.

Paul Anderson, president of the firefighters’ union, said two units typically respond to such calls.

“Any time there is a structural collapse or even a doubt about structural integrity, Rescue 1 is dispatched,” Anderson said. “If needed, Engine 5 will also be dispatched.”

The time of the collapse is also unclear. Public Safety Director Ted Jankowski has said that the first “official” call the fire department got was at 3:40 p.m., when the parent of an Allure resident reported a crumbled ceiling and blocked exit in the parking garage.

The cable news producer knew about it before 3:16 p.m., when she called the fire department to ask for details. That would mean fire marshals and assistant chiefs responded 40 minutes later.

But the gap may be bigger than that.

In a letter to the Board of Representatives, an Allure resident wrote that the collapse occurred much earlier in the afternoon. The resident wanted the board to enter the letter into the public record but wished to be anonymous:

“I am a resident living on the 12th floor in the north tower of the Allure. Some concerns: The collapse occurred at 1 p.m. Working from home on the 12th floor at the time, I felt the building shake and heard a crash. No communication was sent out, so I assumed nothing was amiss.”

If in fact the collapse occurred at 1 p.m., there was no emergency response for nearly three hours. Now the city has further concerns about construction of the Allure building and about six or seven other buildings in the Harbor Point development.

In a March 1 letter to the Board of Representatives, Simmons wrote that when the fire marshals and assistant chiefs arrived at Allure around 3:55 p.m., “On scene, individuals were already shoring up the collapsed area.” 

No information about the individuals was provided.


Angela Carella

For 36 years prior to joining the Connecticut Examiner, Angela Carella was a beat reporter, investigative reporter, editor and columnist for the Stamford Advocate. Carella reports on Stamford and Fairfield County. T: 203 733-6811

a.carella@ctexaminer.com