Ernest Bishop March 14, 2018
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Former tenants were allowed to grab their belongings from the Norton Towers in New Haven after the building was deemed too dangerous. (WFSB)


Wednesday was moving day in New Haven for people who lived in an apartment building.

Last week, the city ordered an emergency evacuation of Norton Towers after an inspection brought fears that parts of the building could one day collapse.

Monday, it was thought that it was simply too dangerous to have movers inside.

However, a structural engineer gave the city the green light to allow four families at a time to get their belongings and lighten the load on the building.

Christopher Mercado’s fish tank was just one of the many items he and movers hauled out of the building.

“It’s bittersweet, even though we’re getting everything out, it’s still scary to go in the building,” Mercado said.

None of the roughly 80 tenants have been living at the five story building since last Thursday.

“We had a lot of deterioration in the basement, structural members including tubs falling through,” said Jim Turcio, New Haven building official. “That’s very concerning.”

Neighbors, many of whom have been living in local motels, were given a chance on Monday to grab a few belongings. But nothing big.

That changed on Wednesday when the engineer signed off on letting people move out for good.

“As long as it takes, we’re going to move, three to four tenants out a day, try to get the load out of the building, all their furniture,” Turcio said.

The hope is that it will take some stress off of the structure.

The management company said it noticed some issues, specifically in the basement, when it purchased the building a few years ago. However, it said it didn’t know the severity until a few months ago.

The city said it was called last week and everyone got out.

“We’re paying to the moving trucks, we’ve paid for the food, we paid for the housing, and we’ll continue to do so until every single tenant is out,” said Mendy Katz, property manager. “We’re instructing them to try and find housing wherever they can, call as many landlords as possible. We’ll help out with security deposits and work out the money arrangements so everything gets straightened out.”

The city said it expects the move out process to take weeks.

Once the building is clear, crews can start the temporary demolition to open up the walls and see just how widespread the problem is.

Copyright 2018 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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