CHICAGO (CBS) — A devastating fire ripped through a Jewelers Row high rise in April.
Six months later, a restoration costing tens of millions of dollars is wrapping up. CBS 2 goes inside the landmark gem gleaming from the ashes.
For jeweler Howard Frum, setting up watches in a glass case is part of a normal day’s work. That’s in stark contrast to an overnight in April when flames heavily damaged the Maller’s building.
“The building was flooded with water. A lot of smell in the store from smoke,” Frum said.
At first, the smoke and mess kept customers away.
“It was rough, it was slow,” he said.
A late night at work left Koko Deveci trapped on the fourth floor and desperate for help. Eventually firefighters helped Deveci down to safety.
“I got scared. I couldn’t breathe,” said Deveci back in April. Today, he remembers the chaos caused by the fire. “It was scary. You just want to get out of there.”
Down the hall from where Deveci was working the window he escaped from is still boarded up.
“Hopefully we don’t go through such a thing again,” Deveci said.
CBS 2 met Adi Golan after the fire back in April looking at security cameras on his phone. His business suffered extensive damage. Today, he’s back inside looking at diamonds and looking ahead to the holidays.
“It’s the most important time of the year for us,” said Golan.
Restoring the grandeur of a 1912 building is no simple task.
“I’ve been very surprised with the community, the jewelers in the building, how they’ve come together, how they’ve persevered, how they’ve helped each other,” said building landlord Scott Solotorovski of the Spectrum Properties Group.
One pleasant surprise: crews discovered the original tile buried under several layers of carpet and other flooring. That early 20th century tile is now being restored.