UPDATED 01/26/12 4:27 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Owners of a Lincoln Park apartment building that has gone without heat or hot water for days have agreed to make temporary repairs by Monday, much sooner than they originally told tenants, after the city took the owners to court on Thursday.
WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports city officials had taken the building owners to court and threatened to take over the building if repairs were going to take three weeks, as the owners originally told their tenants.
The water heaters and furnaces at 2738 N. Pine Grove Av. had to be shut off when building owners found out the chimney venting dangerous carbon monoxide exhaust was blocked.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports
At first, the building’s management company, Lakeview Associates Inc., told tenants repairs could take two to three weeks. The letter did say residents could either move out, or get February rent for free.
But now attorney Don Wilson said the owners have agreed to work much faster than that.
“The solution for the interim is going to be the erection of a temporary stack along the outside of the building,” he said. “So there’s going to be this temporary structure built. It should be completed, hopefully, by Sunday, but certainly by Monday is the expectation.”
As CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports, property managers first said repairs would take about three weeks recommended the tenants of the 14-story, 107-unit building use space heaters and ovens to keep warm in the meantime, which drew the ire of the Fire Department, which said that move could be dangerous.
Wilson admitted using space heaters and ovens was not a good idea because of safety concerns and he had this to say to chilly tenants:
“Nobody wants this to happen. So, of course, my client … doesn’t feel good about the fact that this happened,” Wilson said.
But because tenants are using space heaters, a judge ordered the managers to hire guards to patrol the building around the clock in case of a fire.
The Housing Court judge also ordered the building managers to provide each tenant with an exit plan, and to meet with them to talk about proper safety precautions.
Managers intend to hold that meeting Friday night.
The building already had been without heat and hot water for days before the city took the owners to court on Thursday.
As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, residents who spent the night in the building at 2738 N. Pine Grove Ave. in the Park West section of Lincoln Park had to use space heaters to stay warm. And when it came to taking a hot shower Thursday morning, or even a somewhat warm shower, they were out of luck.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports
Residents have been frustrated with the long wait for repairs.
“I came home one day, and I noticed that it was kind of cold, and then I waited for the radiator to turn on, and it just didn’t. And then I went to take a shower, and there was no hot water,” one woman who lives in the building said. “And I kept thinking that maybe it’s just a problem with my unit, so I was like Little House on the Prairie, like putting water over my stove and stuff, and pouring it over myself for a shower.”
Now, she has been showering at a friend’s house and carrying a towel and shampoo with her.
Meanwhile, Collin Hutton says decided to move out of the building.
“We’re going to move out as soon as possible, probably, like, we’re hoping to get before the first of the month,” Hutton said.
The 14-story apartment building just south of Diversey Parkway is made up of small studio and one-bedroom rental apartments.
Managers told residents the boiler went out, and the chimney needs to be replaced. Peoples Gas found a blocked chimney was allowing high levels of carbon monoxide to build up.
“It was our CO detectors that were going off. The Fire Department was getting 60 parts per million in our apartment, and 100 parts per million in another girl’s apartment, and they didn’t even do anything the first time they got these readings,” Hutton said. “They cleaned our stoves was what they did.”
Those who are not temporarily moving out and staying with friends went ahead and bought space heaters. They have also been instructed to boil water for bathing.
“Wear a sweater, warm up your water – not a big deal,” said resident Sylvia Kaminski.
But other residents say that’s easier said than done.
“You’d be surprised how difficult it is to take a quick, cold shower – even a bird bath,” said Mark Fenzel.
He packed his suitcases Thursday morning and is heading to Brazil.
“Why not go on vacation now?” he said. “Can you think of a better time?”
Some tenants were more willing to give the building managers a break.
“The building manager is doing everything that she can, so it’s an unfortunate situation, but we just have to stick it out. We don’t have time to pack up and move,” said Lindsey Jordan.
She is staying home, using a space heater and taking showers at her gym.
“We have kind of drafty windows – we’re on a corner – so it’s pretty cold,” Jordan said. “We’ve got to bundle up; lots of thick blankets.”