Sinking Stamford Lofts owner sues developer
The owner of a historic lock factory that has been converted into luxury lofts in Stamford thinks he should be reimbursed for the money he poured into the sinking building, so he is suing.
Manhattan-based Gaia Real Estate has purchased the former Yale & Towne factory, now the 225-unit Lofts at Yale & Towne, from the city’s largest developer, Building and Land Technology, for $395.5 million dollars in 2016.
However, the six-story, 725-foot-long Lofts building on Henry Street had begun to sink, and the building’s frame was leaning, windows were cracking, and gaps were appearing around the doors. The tenants have been ordered to move out by the end of 2021 and the building, which has stood empty for about a year and a half and has been described as a “disaster”, is likely to be demolished.
In a 77-page amended lawsuit filed last week in Stamford Superior Court, Gaia sued BLT, its subsidiaries, the City of Stamford and several other entities, claiming the building had been negligently renovated, inspected and maintained prior to construction. be sold to Gaia.
Specifically, Gaia claims that an impermeable liner installed to protect against contaminated soil also prevented groundwater replenishment beneath the building, causing the soil to compress and cause the building to sink and shift. Groundwater was also depleted due to the faulty installation and repair of a service drain, according to the lawsuit.
“As the groundwater at the site was and is continuously and irreversibly depleted, the foundations of The Lofts building were insufficient to support the weight of the building, causing damage,” the lawsuit states. “Furthermore, the negligent installation of the 36-inch utility drain without infiltration collars is causing, in whole or in part, groundwater depletion at the site.”
The lawsuit also alleges that BLT and its affiliates knew or should have known about the groundwater issue and failed to disclose it to Gaia.
The building has sunk 8 inches at the ground floor slab and about 14 inches at the exterior columns of the building since the building opened in 2010, according to the lawsuit. The majority of the settlements have occurred in the past three or four years, depending on the lawsuit.
Gaia says an environmental use restriction prevents it from replacing the coating because it can release pollutants.
The lawsuit also names the city, which Gaia alleges failed to inspect the foundations and related works during the 2010 renovation, as well as failed to properly maintain and repair utilities near the Lofts, which further caused the depletion of groundwater under the building.
BLT has come under scrutiny for construction issues elsewhere in Stamford, including a city investigation into the collapse of a 15ft by 20ft concrete slab at a 22-story building on Pacific Street in February 2022. A preliminary investigation showed that the slab was missing concrete reinforcing cables when the design plans required it. The city has hired an engineering firm to examine seven other BLT buildings at Harbor Point.