Winter shows no mercy to long-established building on Main Street in Stafford

By Lauri Voter - Staff Writer
Stafford - posted Fri., Feb. 11, 2011
A collapsed building on Main Street in Stafford is demolished on Feb. 4. Photo by Lauri Voter.
A collapsed building on Main Street in Stafford is demolished on Feb. 4. Photo by Lauri Voter.

In an instant, the view along Main Street in Stafford Springs changed on Feb. 4. Just before noon, the building located at 31-39 Main St. succumbed to the weight of snow on its roof, collapsing in on itself and onto the sidewalk below.

“Nobody was injured,” said Stafford First Selectman Michael P. Krol.

According to Krol, there were no pedestrians near the building at the time, and no vehicles were passing by at that moment. Although an elderly couple was in the laundromat located within the structure at the time the roof collapsed, they were able to get out of the building unharmed. Their van, which was parked out front, received some damage from falling bricks.

After the incident occurred, the town of Stafford sprang into action.

“First of all, along with emergency personnel, you have to decide what the danger is, and make an executive decision,” said Krol.

Since the building was considered a public safety issue, the town decided that the best course of action was to tear it down immediately. To that end, Main Street was blocked off for the remainder of the evening, and into the early hours of the following day, while the building was demolished.

Due to foreclosure, ownership of the property was recently transferred to a mortgage company, Apex Mortgage, of Fort Washington, Penn. In turn, Apex Mortgage was attempting to sell the property through the Stafford-based real estate company Connecticut Crossroads Realty (CCR).

Krol indicated that the town contacted CCR, called the bank and contacted the mortgage company. “We took [the building] down and are trying to find Apex to get reimbursement. We have to be reasonable and find the least expensive way to do it, so we line up the demo team and disposal of rubble,” said Krol.

“They were shocked that the building came down so fast. They thought they would have more time to decide what to do,” said CCR broker Andy Goodhall.

Stafford’s building official/town engineer, Dennis C. Milanovich, P.E., condemned the building, stating that in his professional opinion, it appeared that “the snow load exceeded the capacity of the building.”

“We couldn’t leave an unstable structure,” said Milanovich.

The building collapse negatively impacted several small businesses that were operating out of that site: Tiny Bubbles (31 Main St.); AMC Construction LLC (35 Main St.); and La Petite France French Bakery & Café (33 Main St.) were all destroyed.

Jocelyne Bolduc, who ran AMC’s Stafford office, indicated that she is now attempting to run the business out of a location in Thorndike, Mass. No AMC employee was in the building when it collapsed. According to Bolduc, she was usually the only employee in the office on Fridays, but on Feb. 4, she was sick. “The estimator and project manager were on the road,” she said.

Bolduc has filed a claim with her insurance company, and intends to find a new Stafford location for her business. In the meantime, her company, which specializes in commercial drywall and finish carpentry, can be reached at 860-851-9721. 

Alexandra and Romeo Litor, owners of La Petite France, are also planning to look around for a new location for their bakery, which may or may not be in Stafford. The Litors maintain a second location at 967 Farmington Ave., in West Hartford, but all of the baking for that branch was done at the Stafford site. The Litors lost all of their equipment.

“My husband was in the bakery when it collapsed,” said Alexandra Litor, who explained that Romeo Litor heard the structure start to give way, and was able to get out of the bakery unharmed.

Because the structure was too unstable, the Litors could only get into the building for a few moments to quickly retrieve some recipes.

“The fire marshal would not let us go inside. He let me go to get recipes and [cook] books,” said Alexandra Litor.

The ReminderNews was not able to make contact with anyone from the laundromat, Tiny Bubbles. A representative from Apex Mortgage stated that no one there would make comments for publication.

Krol said that the remaining rubble from the demolished building will be taken away by USA Hauling, indicating that the wood, brick and metal will be recycled.

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