The 468-car garage, which has a separate owners’ association from the condo owners’ association for the upper floors, closed on July 9, 2021. That was about two weeks after a horrifying condominium collapse 12-story building in Surfside, Florida. Condo residents feared a similar incident when they learned the garage’s board had yet to complete concrete repairs that an engineering firm in 2018 deemed urgent.
Mike Boucher, one of five members of the garage’s owners’ council, said the repairs cost around $4 million.
Get 4 weeks of Crain’s for $1
“It’s like a whole new garage,” Boucher said. The repairs, he said, “should have been done years ago.”
The delays, Boucher said, were because “nobody wants to spend the money.” But the risk of collapse “has never been a real risk,” Boucher said.
In 2018, an engineering consultant advised garage owners that repairs to concrete support columns “must be done as soon as possible, as the conditions present imminent danger to users of the facility and to the structure itself. same”.
The consultancy firm, Walker Consultants, wrote to mechanics in early July 2021, saying that to their knowledge the repairs “have not been carried out to date” and that it is “highly probable that the conditions of concern have aggravated”.
With the alarming images of Surfside in mind, residents of 111 E. Chestnut told Crain’s in July that “my stomach is in knots” and “I can’t sleep at night.” A resident said she had banned her family and other visitors from parking in the garage for the past few years since she learned that repairs had not been made.
On July 9, the Ministry of Buildings ordered the garage closed until repairs were completed.
Boucher said during the 10-month shutdown he paid about $7,200 to rent two spaces in a building on Chicago Avenue, but his real concern was “the guy who has the public spaces and couldn’t make them work. all this time. How much did this guy lose?
The operation of the public car park holds the vast majority of the 468 spaces in the garage.
Garage manager Debra Bolden posed questions to Don Barnes, regional manager of parking operator SP Plus. Barnes did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Last year, the first estimate for repairs was $12 million, Boucher said, but the garage board eventually found an engineering company – Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates or WJE – that would do the job for 4 millions of dollars. Despite a two-thirds cost reduction, Boucher said the work was done to the same standards. “There’s no easy way out when you’re working with the City of Chicago,” Boucher said. “They had an inspector here every week.”
On May 26, the city’s building department lifted the closure order, spokesman Michael Puccinelli confirmed for Crain’s. An inspection “confirmed that the necessary structural repair work has been completed,” according to the ministry statement.