By Tara Molina

CHICAGO (CBS) — Constant construction noise, dust and debris has been making it into the units of a high rise in Lakeview. Residents who reached out to CBS 2 say it is not just unbearable but also a safety hazard, and they can’t take it anymore.

CBS 2’s Tara Molina took their concerns to their management company and the city.

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“They’re grinding like mad men. There is dust going everywhere,” said Stefan Balsa Nikolic.

Stefan says for him, his family and others living at 510 W. Belmont in Lakeview it’s unbearable. He says the work on the buildings facade started a couple months ago when the stay-at-home order began.

“They drill all day,” he said. “Two, three, four, five days in a row.”

The noise is one thing, but the dust and debris, he says, is making it inside, even with the windows closed.

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“Yesterday I walk into my kid’s room, and I can just smell the concrete dust,” he said.

They are concerned for their safety, and they are not alone. He said someone is distributing around the building a request for a rent protest until they get some answers.

Peter Condich, the general manager of the property management company, said they did make the decision to continue work during the stay-at-home order but says their contractor is using all OSHA approved tools for dust collecting and they’ve offered residents headphones and opportunities to work in quieter units.

He also said that the project should wrap in the next couple weeks and they’ve adjusted the working hours to 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Condich sent the following statement about the situation:

We acknowledge that living through this Essential Construction Work is made more trying during the Covid-19 Stay at Home order. As mentioned in our conversation, the need for this work was identified in a Façade Inspection Report submitted as part of the Exterior Wall Program with the City of Chicago Department of Buildings.  Given the Essential nature of this in-progress restoration, it is not feasible to stop or postpone the work.

In an effort to make this process more bearable for our residents, we are doing the following:

·         The City of Chicago permits construction between the hours of 8am and 8pm. We have limited all destruction work to two shortened windows (9am-12pm and 12:30pm-3:00pm). While limiting the hours of construction extends the overall length of the project this adjustment was made to limit the daily disruptions to the extent feasible.

·         We have made noise-cancelling headsets available for residents to use that can assist in ameliorating the background construction noise.

·         We have made available numerous semi-private work spaces in vacant apartments in quieter areas of the building.

·         We have arranged for use of private work spaces at a nearby apartment building, about one mile from Belmont Tower Apartments.

·         We have installed dust barriers in apartments when required (as explained in our phone conversation, this mitigation work is utilized when the demolition occurs above the window of the affected unit).

·         The contractor has used OSHA approved dust mitigation equipment throughout the process (as confirmed by the City of Chicago Department of Buildings).

We are now in the final six weeks of an 9 month project. We take the input of our residents seriously and attempt to address all of their concerns in a practical fashion. We look forward to a successful completion of this project and we believe that we will all get through this together.

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Residents who spoke with CBS 2 maintain the company should have held the construction until after the order ends.

Tara Molina