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The Village of Oak Park halted the construction of a new Oak Park Township senior center Tuesday afternoon, amid worries following the collapse of a property on Harrison Street this past summer.
An inspector slapped the orange "stop work" order on the front of 126-134 S. Oak Park Ave. around 3 p.m., according to Township Supervisor David Boulanger. The township had carved five large, rectangular holes in the side of building recently, with plans to add windows, and inspectors worried they might cause instability.
"They said we needed to shore up that wall a bit more because they've had a bad experience recently with collapsing brick walls," Boulanger said, referring to a Harrison Street property that partially collapsed in August after a contractor performed unpermitted work. "They didn't want to take any chances."
Steve Witt, the director of Building and Property Standards, and Lee Harris, the inspector who issued the order, could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.
Boulanger said they planned to put jacks in place Wednesday to help strengthen the property, and he expects the project will fall about a day behind schedule.
For more than a decade, the township has been scouring for a new place to put its senior services — now located in a cramped spot on the fifth and sixth floors of the Oak Park Arms retirement hotel on Oak Park Avenue. It's been there for about 15 years, paying annual rent of about $120,000 for 6,500 square feet of space.
The renovations are expected to be much more than originally anticipated, according to Boulanger, totaling up to $2 million, including the purchase price, up from $1.2 million. He expects the new senior center to open on time in June.
"We're still feeling very good about it and there's been nothing knocking us off track," Boulanger said.
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