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Norwalk building inspector proves progress being made on Wall Street building

A view through an open door at 45 Wall St., on Sept. 27.

A photo of work underway at 45 Wall St. (Courtesy Norwalk Chief Building Official Bill Ireland)

NORWALK, Conn. — It may not show from the outside but work is proceeding at 45 Wall St., Norwalk Chief Building Official Bill Ireland said.

Ireland provided photos to illustrate the work.

The building has sat dilapidated for years, earning a reputation as holding the neighborhood back, since it was heavily damaged by a fire in August 2010. Ireland said in March that the renovations were about to begin in earnest.

A photo of work underway at 45 Wall St. (Courtesy Norwalk Chief Building Official Bill Ireland)

He quoted the project’s construction manager as saying TTD Bank has been the holdup, although many have pointed finger of blame at the building’s owner, Ganga Duleep. The bank was insisting that work be done to a higher standard than had been planned, to protect the value of its collateral, Ireland said.

Norwalk had been pursuing Duleep under the commercial blight ordinance, threatening her with fines of $100 a day.  The fines are on hold but would be backdated to Dec. 8 if the blighted condition is not resolved, he said in March, explaining that he’d been promised that the blight will be taken care of in five or six weeks. Plywood window coverings would be removed, new windows installed and the scaffolding taken down, and the historic façade restored.

A mid-September email exchange with Ireland about progress was terse. The building inspector sent multiple photographs, and on Oct. 3, explained that the wooden structure shown behind the building was the kitchen that had been burned down.

“They are rebuilding it from the ground up new,” he said.

He did not offer a time frame for the repairs to the front of the building.

A photo of work underway at 45 Wall St. (Courtesy Norwalk Chief Building Official Bill Ireland)

A photo of work underway at 45 Wall St. (Courtesy Norwalk Chief Building Official Bill Ireland)

A photo of work underway at 45 Wall St. (Courtesy Norwalk Chief Building Official Bill Ireland)

9 comments

Kathryn Breault October 9, 2017 at 9:37 am

This wreck of a building has irked me for years. Years ago I read that the the permit for the scaffolding had expired and she was going to be fined until it was taken down. It is still there. I hope that whatever the taxes are on this building are being paid. I think the city should act forcefully and resolve this ugly problem.

Donna Smirniotopoulos October 9, 2017 at 10:39 am

My home sat for months looking like a tear down, thanks to the subtitle machinations of a disreputable “builder” and my own fear of the truth. Though I cringed on behalf of my neighbors whenever I came over to check the “progress”, they were nice enough not to report the blight problem. After Sandy people were generalaly patient and forgiving. But my delays were not caused by Sandy. On reflection, had the Zoning Department had a requirement to meet the property owner, and had there been some minimal standards for architectural plans, I could have avoided most of the delays and saved myself lots of money on this fraud of a builder. I understand in Duleep’s case, the delays are attributable to the bank. But the Building and Zoning Departments don’t seem to have the resources to stay on top of every project. Also the departments are “siloed” under the current government organization, so Zoning officials are not in the practice of pursuing open permits through the Building department. I’m inclined to have sympathy for the property owner given my own experience. However, again some minimal requirements for plans and timing could be required, especially in Historic districts. I now know that people in both the Zoning and Building offices were scratching their heads every time my builder walked in. But no one felt compelled to draw my attention to his shortcomings. And I wound up the ultimate loser. Maybe these things could be tracked better and the City could add some minimal requirements for property owners to meet with Zoning and Building officials.

Rem October 9, 2017 at 1:18 pm

What’s the proposed use of the building? It looks a little like a self storage facility.

@Donna Sorry to hear about your experience but hiring a licensed architect would have provided you with minimally required plans. They would have also helped you choosing a reputable builder or negotiating with the any other builder when problems arise.

I don’t know the whole history of this property but it’s not uncommon to have condemned or shuttered buildings taking years to be repaired. There’s a case in Providence of a preserved building facade in the historic downtown area that was supposed to be reused but the proposed building never got the funding and it’s been more than 10 years already. The facade is supported with steel bracing so it’s safe to walk next to but I imagine some would take issue to its appearance..

Donna Smirniotopoulos October 9, 2017 at 5:19 pm

@Rem, in the past I did use an architect. The person I employed on my Norwalk project claimed design credentials, including membership in NARI. Lesson learned, I did hire an architect to finish the job and a competent builder to execute. Comparing architectural drawings to what this buffoon submitted to Zoning and Building, and subsequent conversations with city employees who were dismayed by the lack of detail—but not so much that they reached out to me—convinced me that the Zoning and Building departments should consider having minimal standards for plans. The plans my builder/designer got approved should’ve been red flags to anyone with Building background, if not to the idiot homeowner who hired the guy 😬.

The Duleep suffers as a result of financial distress and/or the unwillingness of the owner to adhere to the building standards required by the lender. The Wall Street area’s
Redevelopment should not be held up by one property owner.

Nancy Chapman October 10, 2017 at 12:51 pm

As I understand it, the proposed use of 45 Wall St. is a continuation of the previous use. Anna Duleep is not a part of Wall Street Associates, her mother’s company, and has no stake in the building but confirmed this for me today:

“My understanding is that it’s grandfathered in (under zoning) for the same use as before the arsonist targeted Mom’s building: 10 apartments upstairs (including significantly more affordable units than state guideline) plus commercial space downstairs that’s suitable for another restaurant.”

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NancyOnNorwwalk.com was conceived as the place to go for Norwalk residents to get the real, unvarnished story about what is going on in and around their city. NancyOnNorwalk does not intend to be a print newspaper online; rather, it exists to pull the curtain back and shine a spotlight on how Norwalk is run and what is happening regarding issues that have an impact on taxpayers’ pocketbooks and safety. As an independent site, NancyOnNorwalk’s first and only allegiance is to the reader.

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Nancy came to Norwalk in September 2010 and, after reporting on Norwalk for two years for another company, resigned to begin Nancy On Norwalk so she engage in journalism the way it was meant to be done. She is married to career journalist Mark Chapman, has a son, Eric (the artist and web designer who built this website), and two cats – a middle-aged lady and a young hottie who are learning how to peacefully co-exist.