The tenants of 930 North Blvd. have all been successfully relocated into temporary living quarters after having to vacate the building due to potential structural issues. The village of Oak Park issued the evacuation order after it was found that floors on at least two levels of the building slope as much as four inches toward the center of the structure.
Sent Nov. 5, the order stipulated that all existing tenants had to be evacuated from the building by 11:59 p.m., Nov. 10, which caused a frenzy for tenants and 33Realty, the company that manages the building. Eric Weber, the owner of 33Realty, confirmed the building was safely vacated within the timeframe, but it “was no easy exercise.”
The cost of evacuation and relocation is being handled by Texas-based Goldman Investments, the company that owns the building, according to Weber, but 33Realty used its own employees and property managers to move tenants.
“We put people in a variety of housing options, some of them in buildings that we manage where we were able to maneuver some tenants around those buildings so we could slip these tenants in,” said Weber.
Others were moved into third party rental buildings and hotels. Some tenants are supportive of how the situation is being handled and others not so much, according to Weber.
“It was not easy, and you feel for these people,” said Weber of the relocated tenants, some of whom had lived in the building for as long as 15 years.
Weber’s company just started overseeing the building on Oct. 15. 33Realty and its two sister companies were contracted by Goldman Investments to handle the building’s management, leasing and renovations. Goldman Investments purchased the building in December 2019.
Weber told Wednesday Journal neither Goldman Investments, the tenants of 930 North Blvd. nor 33Realty knew the extent of the building’s structural issues as they were not visible to the naked eye. It is not uncommon either for older buildings to have sloping floors either, according to Weber.
“This is an old building and it’s got warped floors, but you didn’t see even in the units drywall cracking or trim separating from the walls,” he said.
While being unattractive, cracked drywall and separated trim are also indicative of more serious structural problems within buildings.
The village of Oak Park conducted a property maintenance inspection of the building in 2019 when the building was purchased by Goldman Investments. However, those inspections only evaluate whether the building is up to maintenance code, according to Tammie Grossman, director of the development customer services department.
“Those property maintenance people are looking for things like workable smoke detectors,” she said. “They’re not looking for structural issues.”
Grossman does not remember the village of Oak Park ever before having to order an evacuation of a building due to structural issues during her tenure.
A report from a structural engineer will determine how severe, or not, structural issues are at 930 North Blvd. But safety measures need to be taken prior to that inspection. Such measures include minor reinforcements as the engineer will have to drill into and remove sections of the building to assess the condition of its internal rebar and concrete support system. Weber estimates it will take around three to four weeks for the engineer to conduct a complete building inspection.
The engineer will also need to inspect the structural beam that is located above the out-of-use indoor pool on the building’s first floor. The beam was put in over 10 years ago, according to Grossman. Due to the pool being pitched, ladders cannot stand up in the pool, so 33Realty is in the process of building a platform so the engineer can safely access the beam.
Representatives from the development customer services department have been monitoring 33Realty’s progress, popping by “just about every day,” according to Weber. Grossman confirmed that 33Realty has been cooperating with the village and working closely with her department.
“We’ve got to keep them apprised the whole way as it’s a pretty sensitive situation. Obviously, the situation that occurred in Miami puts increased exposure on this,” said Weber, referencing the tragic collapse of the 12-story condominium that left 98 Miami residents dead this past June.
Both Grossman and Weber told Wednesday Journal that just how much renovation, if any at all, is necessary to make the building safe hinges on the results of the structural engineering report, which will be reviewed by by HR Green, the village of Oak Park’s contracted contractor firm.
“We don’t know what the report is going to say,” said Grossman.
With tenants dispersed and 33Realty trying to manage their living situations for them Weber wishes he had an estimate as to how long it will be until people can return to living in the building.
“I want an answer, but I don’t have one,” he said. “And we’re still a couple weeks away from even getting that report that determines what we do next.”