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By Anna Lothson
The cosmetic touch-ups at Mills Park Tower are in their final phase, but the next stage of repairs will have to wait a bit longer.
As one of Oak Park's tallest buildings, the 1970s-era, 19-story, subsidized, mostly senior housing block owned by the Oak Park Housing Authority is addressing a laundry list of repairs — from patching up cracks to fixing deteriorated and corroded grout and cleaning up water damage — that will come with a hefty price tag.
The building, located at 1025 Pleasant Place has 198 units available for low-income seniors and people with disabilities.
Edward Solan, director of the housing authority, said there are no structural integrity issues with the building. The initial facade work, however, revealed there was more work to be done.
The agency enlisted the expertise of Curtainwall Design Consulting, and on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 of last year, CDC performed exterior observations at the Mills Park Tower as part of a limited structural evaluation program.
The process involved CDC conducting an extensive evaluation of the building, putting up scaffolding, cutting into walls to review interior materials and then resealing the areas.
Solan said the anticipated high costs of repairs led the housing authority to seek a second opinion. Because of that and the number of projects recommended, Solan said it's important to be diligent in prioritizing what's affordable now.
"We don't have any immediate concerns about the structural integrity of the building," he said, "but we know repairs will be fairly costly."
At its board meeting on Tuesday, the housing authority hired Hasbrouck Peterson Zimoch Sirirattumrong, an architectural consulting firm, for a cost not to exceed $4,300. HPZS was one of three companies they accepted bids from. The highest came in at $6,500.
The contracted amount didn't require board approval, but Solan said he wanted consensus on the matter.
The overall costs of the project at this point aren't known, Solan added.
Should the new group come back with alternative recommendations, Solan said, they'll determine then how to move forward. The cutouts into the concrete have since been sealed, so HPZC will have to make their recommendations based on the detailed photographs taken by CDC.
Solan expects to continue working with CDC on future projects but said the second opinion will help confirm their decision.
The goal is to have the building evaluated in the next 60 days by HPZC and get work started before winter, Solan said, which he noted depends on when the project is authorized by the board.
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