Old Yale locks building in Stamford CT is demolition target

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A Stamford, Connecticut, building with more than 165,000 square feet under roof and a considerable industrial history may soon be up for bid as a demolition project.

Local media reports in Connecticut say the owner of the building where Yale locks once were manufactured has determined the factory cannot be saved because of structural problems emanating from the very ground on which it sits.

New York-based Gaia Real Estate Holdings LLC, which lists numerous completed residential and mixed-use projects on its website, reportedly has sued the city of Stamford and the building’s previous owner because Gaia is convinced it is no longer safe to house residential units there.

An early September Connecticut Examiner report describes the issues as involving rotting wood pilings underpinning the old Yale & Towne structure, which was built in 1900. Gaia contends the pilings have rotted because of an impermeable lining installed on the property by a previous owner.

Yale & Towne Manufacturing Co., founded in 1868 and known chiefly for its Yale brand padlocks, achieved national and international success with its patented tumbler locks to the extent that it eventually operated a 25-acre manufacturing and office complex in Stamford. The eight-story 200 Henry Street structure owned by Gaia was part of that complex.

The building was converted into apartments, known as The Lofts, in 2010 by a previous developer. Gaia Real Estate, whose portfolio includes other properties in Stamford, purchased The Lofts in 2016.

Coverage by both the Examiner and the Greenwich Time indicates residents who had lived at The Lofts were moved out in two stages in 2021 and 2022.

The building inspection department of the Stamford government apparently sees the same flaws as Gaia, having issued an unsafe structure notice for The Lofts, “meaning it must be either torn down or made safe,” according to the Examiner.

The report also says the building official it talked to indicates Gaia is in the process of applying for a demolition permit.

Several preservationists quoted by the Examiner have expressed either opposition or remorse about the potential fate of the more than 120-year-old building.

“The loss would be catastrophic,” Judy Norinsky, president of the Stamford Historic Neighborhood Preservation Program, tells the Examiner. “This is happening because the city has not supported the South End historic district. They just let it be destroyed.”

In part because of confidentiality agreements surrounding the lawsuits in progress, the timeline of a potential demolition project is unclear.

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