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Oak Parker Jack Tavolacci was strolling to his first day of work at the Buzz Café when he heard a "huge bang." He turned the corner to see the front of the building right next to his work falling apart.
"Bricks just kind of fell off the building," said Tavolacci, 17. "Pretty wild."
Just before 2 p.m. Wednesday, the front of the one-story commercial building at 201-207 Harrison came tumbling down. Village officials, police and firefighters were on the scene shortly after, but no one could say for certain what caused the collapse.
A pedestrian apparently sustained some bumps and bruises when a brick fell on her, according to Village Manager Tom Barwin, but no other injuries have been reported.
"To state the obvious, it's a minor miracle that no one was seriously hurt," Barwin said while on the scene of the collapse.
Chicago Community Bank filed to foreclose on the building, which houses Prodigy Glassworks and a yet-to-open Chinese restaurant, back in February.
The current property owner, Chris Kleronomos, was spotted standing across the street from the building, but declined to comment. A judge recently appointed Dan Harrington to act as a receiver to oversee the property. Harrington, who was also on the scene, said he's been managing it for about a week. (A receiver is typically tasked with keeping up the building, collecting rents and paying bills, until the court determines otherwise.)
Harrington was unsure what caused the collapse, but said a crew was expected to be on the scene by 4:30 p.m. to start cleaning up the rubble and securing the façade. Harrison was shut down between Lombard and the alley to the west, and Barwin expected it to reopen once the building was secured.
The western most section of the building, which housed the recently closed Briejo restaurant, retained much of its brick façade. Harrington said his crew would need to examine that portion of the façade.
"We've got to figure out, structurally, if that wall is safe. We don't think it is," Harrington said. "If it isn't, they're going to knock it down"
Harrington said a Chinese restaurant was slated to take up the corner space of the building. A contractor had been working for some time to restore the façade, though work had halted a few weeks ago.
Steve Touloumis, chief building inspector for the village, confirmed that permits had been taken out to do the work. But he did not know as of Wednesday afternoon whether the work was outside the scope of what was approved by the village.
For more on this story, see the Aug. 17 print edition of Wednesday Journal, and check OakPark.com for updates.