Long road home for StoneWood residents after December 2017 ﬁre
New Haven Register
By Robert Koch
08 December 2018
NORWALK — It was a year ago Tuesday when flames tore through StoneWood
Condominium, displacing Mimi Rivera and dozens of others from the
54-unit complex along Richards Avenue.
Since then, Rivera and her husband have lived with their daughter in
Stamford. But they’re eager to return to StoneWood, see their old
neighbors and have their own space once reconstruction of the
fire-damaged structure is complete.
“I like my neighbors,” said Rivera, who had lived at StoneWood for
about two years before the fire struck. “I like the area, having my
space again. Supposedly, everything will be brand new — all new
appliances, rugs, bathroom features. I look forward to being back in my
house, my place.”
After nearly a year of demolition and reconstruction work, StoneWood
Condominium is moving toward reopening next year. While some have heard
that work might wrap up in April, Imagineers, the property management
company that oversees the building, said in a reconstruction update
Friday that it’s looking at July 31, 2019.
Condo owners told to be ready
“As we approach the anniversary of the fire, we look back at a year
that has been challenging, yet during which time an extensive amount of
work has been completed, an astounding number of important steps made
and numerous road blocks resolved,” wrote Karl Kuegler Jr., Imagineers’
director of property management, in an update Friday on behalf of
StoneWood Condominium Association.
“When all is said and done, from the replacement of the roofing and
siding of the building exterior, to the replacement of the unit
interior finishes, mechanical systems, electrical systems, insulation
and drywall, to the replacement of the interior common areas, the
Association members will be returned to a building that will be
substantially a new building,” Kuegler continued.
Kuegler told Hearst Connecticut Media that Imagineers doesn’t yet know
how many of the condominium owners who lived in the building prior to
the fire will return. But he advised them to ready for the reopening by
“having flexibility in leases and other agreements related to their
respective living arrangements for the balance of the reconstruction
‘Moving right along’
On Dec. 11, 2017, flames ripped through the upper levels of the
four-story building at 100 Richards Ave., destroying parts of the roof
and leaving smoke and water damage elsewhere. At least one resident
predicted the building would be gutted.
Instead, remaining residents were forced to move out, and rebuilding
began throughout the building, initially with crews working 10-hour
days, six days a week to strip the structure down to its frame, and
afterward with reconstruction of walls, plumbing, electrical and
William D. Ireland, Norwalk’s chief building official, visits StoneWood
frequently to monitor the work of Viking Construction, Inc., the
general contractor, and numerous subcontractors. He described the
progress as impressive.
“I was there yesterday doing another section of insulation inspection,”
Ireland said Thursday. “The whole fourth floor is ready for
Sheetrocking, and they’ll be ready for another inspection supposedly
next week. They’re moving right along in there.”
Tyvek protective wrap still covers much of the exterior of the building
as work continues inside. Alliance All Trades of Thomaston, Conn., has
been on site about five months, installing a new heating and
air-conditioning system throughout the building.
“We’re doing the HVAC contracting, all the apartments, all the common
areas. It’s all new, everything, all new systems,” said Alliance All
Trades Foreman Bill Heslin. “I’m thinking by January or February, we’ll
be complete, but the rest, I’m not sure.”
‘Video tour’ of progress
On the afternoon of the fire, Jessica Morales, of Stamford, had just
arrived at StoneWood to pick up her daughter from her parents, who
lived at the condominium complex. For the last year, Morales’ parents
have lived with her in Stamford, but she said they plan to return to
StoneWood once is reopens.
“They are doing repairs, but I don’t know when everything is going to
be done. I know they (my parents) get frequent updates about the
progress,” Morales said. “They’re waiting to go back. There’s been a
lot of progress so far. They send them updates, even videos, so they
can see what’s going on inside.”
In addition to providing written updates on the reconstruction,
Imagineers has periodically provided residents a virtual tour of the
“You respect the fact that these are people’s homes and they don’t have
the ability to access the building,” Kuegler said. “So periodically
we’ve taken a video tour of the building to show homeowners the
progress and then we’ve done written updates.”
a carelessly discarded cigarette on a third-floor balcony
Smoking ban considered
Fire investigators, after speaking with witnesses and investigating the
damage, determined that the December 2017 fire was sparked by a
carelessly discarded cigarette on a third-floor balcony. Vinyl siding
and wood construction fueled the blaze. As a result of the
reconstruction, parts of the building will be safer.
“Basically, the interior is the all the same, because the
fire-resistant ratings haven’t changed,” Ireland said. “But the adding
of the sprinklers to the outside decks is big.”
Whether smoking will be allowed inside the rebuilt building or on its balconies remains to be seen.
“The (StoneWood Condominium) Association is in the process of proposing
changes to its governing documents that would prevent smoking within
the building or on balconies,” Kuegler told Hearst Connecticut Media.
“Once the text of the changes is drafted, a required vote of the unit
owners will be conducted.”