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High-Rise Eyesores Have Residents Seeing Red

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State Rep. Deb Mell lives near an uncompleted building project. (CBS)

State Rep. Deb Mell lives near an uncompleted building project. (CBS)

Mike Parker Mike Parker
Mike Parker has been a general assignment reporter for CBS 2 Chicago...
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CHICAGO (CBS) — The staggering economy has created scores of abandoned commercial housing developments  across Chicago.  Should they be torn down when years go by and they become eyesores?

CBS 2’s Mike Parker looked at a few that suggest the wrecking ball will have to wait.

Construction began slowly on a condo project six years ago at 2609 West Belmont Ave. Two years ago, work stopped after the project was foreclosed upon and there was no new buyer.

Since then, it has become blight. From the Belmont bridge over the North Branch of the Chicago River, it looms over the neighborhood, looking almost like some abandoned building in Baghdad.

It was to be a 46-unit condo building.  But for years now, it’s been covered with no trespassing signs and gang graffiti.

State Rep. Deb Mell is familiar with it. She lives in one of the expensive townhomes across the street.

“Not only is this ugly,” Mell says, “it’s bad for morale for anyone who lives here. But it’s unsafe and it shows gangbangers and criminals that we don’t care about our neighborhood.”

She says the dark and empty structure is making it tough for some of her neighbors to sell their homes.

The lawmaker  thinks when a project like this one goes bad for so long, it should be demolished.

“That would be my preference, to just bring this whole thing down,” she says.

But sometimes white elephants can roar again. The city told CBS 2 that a new developer has taken over the project and will soon begin preparing the site for a resumption of construction.

And consider the Shangri La Hotel and Condo development announced in 2004 for 111 West Wacker Drive.  What was to be a 90-story jewel on the river ground to a halt early in construction. Now it is an ugly, half-completed concrete parking garage.

But again, a new developer is reportedly on board with plans for a much simpler, less grandiose, 60-story condo-only building.

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