AURORA, Colo. — Hundreds of people displaced after an explosion at an Aurora apartment building were told they'll have to find someplace else to live.
Parkside Collective sent an email to residents on Wednesday saying in part:
"We appreciate the patience you have shown as city and county officials continue to evaluate the building. Unfortunately, we have learned that this process will take several months, and residents will not be able to live in the building during this time."
The email goes on to say residents' duty to pay rent stops as of Sept. 10, with no lease break fee.
Property management said the building department had not authorized access back into the building. The City of Aurora said on Thursday that no city department had issued such an order and that property owners have "sole discretion in deciding when residents can enter buildings."
The end result was that residents were still unsure of when they'll be able to retrieve the rest of their belongings.
Aurora Fire said they're still investigating the cause of the explosion and it could take several weeks to find out what happened. They don't believe it was malicious in nature.
"I'm just really anxious about it all," said Ash Fox, a displaced resident.
Witnessing an explosion at her apartment building was disturbing enough. Now, she's trying to figure out what to do next while living in a hotel.
"It's almost like my brain is starting to shut it out because it was traumatic to be honest with you," Fox said. "Three hundred to 400 people is a lot to be homeless at once."
Fox moved into Parkside Collective in March. She said she was excited to move into a nice, new building that was within walking distance of her job and had local businesses nearby.
"It was exciting. Not anymore," she said. "I wouldn’t be surprised if it was negligence to be honest with you because how could a new building have that problem that fast?"
Businesses across from the explosion had to close on Saturday.
"They evacuated us on Saturday just because they were afraid if something did happen with a collapse of the apartment complex that it would hit us collaterally," said Gina Di Tullio, owner of Gina's Kitchen.
Di Tullio just opened her bistro and bakery at the Parkside Eatery a couple of weeks ago. She also watched the explosion happen and was worried about the residents affected.
"I just got acquainted with all of my customers," she said. "I witnessed their fear and their pain and it was, it was really sad. I just wanted to hug them all."
Now that most of her customers are displaced, business is slow.
"So many sweethearts that live here, and I just feel so badly for them all," said Di Tullio. "I can't imagine what they're going through, honestly."
Fox said residents were allowed into the building on Sunday for 10 minutes to grab essentials from their apartment and their car.
"I tried to grab as much as I could, but I definitely left some stuff behind," she said. "You can’t grab everything that you need. The longer that I’m here, the more that I’m realizing how much stuff that I didn’t grab."
Like hundreds of other people, now Fox has to find another new place to live.
"I try to stay positive, like so much. It's not working anymore," she said. "If we just take it day-by-day, it’ll be okay in the end. We just have to keep our head up.”
Here's the full email Parkside Collective sent residents on Wednesday:
We appreciate the patience you have shown as city and county officials continue to evaluate the building. Unfortunately, we have learned that this process will take several months, and residents will not be able to live in the building during this time.
Your duty to pay rent stops as of September 10th and no lease break fee will be assessed. We know this is an incredible inconvenience, and we are here to support you through this transition. We are preparing refund deposit checks and prorated September rent based on your lease agreement and rent payment status. Each unit will also receive $1,000 to support the relocation process. You will be able to obtain these checks at Parkside on Saturday, September 17th starting at 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Staff will be located by the parking garage and checks will be released to the primary lease holder with proof of identification.
To ensure everyone’s safety throughout the move out process, each resident must follow the procedure below:
Currently the building department has not authorized access back into the building to move the contents of each unit out of the building. Once we get clarity from the building department, we will communicate the process and procedure for getting your contents from the building.
For those of you who currently have hotel accommodations we are working to secure those rooms through September 21, 2022.
We have attached a list of nearby apartment communities. We have been in touch with several of them and confirmed availability.
Thank you for your understanding and patience while we work through this process together.
The City of Aurora released a statement Thursday that said:
No city department has issued orders that bar residents from entering their homes since Saturday's incident.
Inspectors from the Building Department observed structural damage and requested that an assessment be done by a licensed engineer to determine what repairs were appropriate. Parkside contracted with an engineer who subsequently provided suggestions for repairs. The Building Department indicated to Parkside which permits would be needed for repairs, but did not prohibit residents from returning before the repairs are completed.
Ensuring all people live in safe residences is the shared responsibility of building owners and the city. Several city departments conduct structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and life safety inspections and provide guidance on repairs. Private property owners are not required to undertake repairs and they have the sole discretion in deciding when residents can enter their buildings.
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