More than a year after Oak Park’s newly expanded $13.4 million public garage started crumbling, the structure is finally getting fixed.
Back in September 2010, village officials first noticed there was something wrong with the Holley Court garage. Cracks were forming in the concrete, four years after a large addition had been built. Oak Park paid for the expansion of the garage, sending the money to developer Whiteco Residential, which hired the construction company.
So village hall hired an expert (Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates) shortly after discovering the damage, and since then has paid the company more than $75,000 to figure out what’s gone wrong, and to devise a fix.
They found that the top level of the garage is “severely cracked,” and estimated it could cost $750,000 to patch the structure.
Village hall believes that Whiteco, which also built the apartment tower with Trader Joe’s at the bottom, erred in the construction and should fix it. As such, Whiteco started repairs last week and was expected to finish Wednesday, Nov. 23, according to Cara Pavlicek, interim parking manager for the village.
Repairs involve squirting epoxy into the cracks and strengthening some beams and columns on the fifth floor. For the past year, 120 spaces in the 1,213-space garage have been out of commission because of the damage.
Pavlicek was uncertain how much the repairs cost, but she said Whiteco is footing the bill. A call to Tim Connelly, the head of Whiteco, was not returned immediately on Monday, and he has not returned calls over the past year since the damage emerged at the Holley Court garage.
Village spokesman David Powers said, so far, Whiteco has applied to do about $70,000 worth of work in the garage. A second round of repairs is expected, according to Pavlicek, but she wasn’t sure when it would take place.
Damage has not spread to other parts of the garage outside of the expansion, according to Pavlicek. She said village hall is pushing to have Whiteco pay for the $75,000 running tab from WJE, too.
David Barsotti, a neighboring resident who opposed the Whiteco tower along with another high-rise proposed a few blocks away, said he’s glad that the repairs are finally happening. He hopes Oak Park devises a more concrete plan to maintain its multi-million dollar garages to avoid further damage. Barsotti has accused the village of purposely neglecting the public garage at Lake and Forest, which village officials have denied.
“There does not seem to be a maintenance plan for the Holley Court garage,” he said. “The stairwells are dark and the elevator was broken for several months. The village needs to have a maintenance plan for the garages or one day we will hear the village president telling Oak Park taxpayers that the Holley Court garage has outlived its useful life, when in reality the garage was not properly maintained.”