It’s been just about a year and a half since the residents of 930 North Blvd. in Oak Park had to move due to an emergency evacuation, but work is now underway to make the building secure for occupancy. Tenants could fill the units again by this fall.
“We’re probably going to begin showing them starting in like August,” said Eric Weber, who owns 33Realty, the company that manages the building.
That may seem like a long way off, considering that tenants were evacuated in November 2021, but it took quite a while for owner Goldman Investments to secure the necessary capital to make the required structural repairs. The cost, which Weber would only say was in the range of seven digits, was significantly greater than any funds Goldman had on hand for the building.
“We obviously couldn’t start the project without the funds in place,” said Weber.
The building’s condition which had floors on several levels drooping toward its center core was not relayed to Israel-based Goldman at the time of purchase, according to Weber, and 33Realty was only hired to manage less than a month before the evacuation. Weber does not believe ownership ever considered walking away from their obligations to the building and its tenants. Goldman paid for the cost of moving the tenants out of the 48-unit, fully occupied building and 33Realty found them new housing.
“Ownership inherited a problem that they had no chance of ever seeing and when they did, despite how expensive this became and how much it damaged the return on its investment, they still did the right thing,” said Weber.
Before funding could be sourced, the extent of the building’s issues had to be determined. The structural engineering report, ordered by the Village of Oak Park and paid for by Goldman, was completed in April 2021. Since the report was filed with the village, Goldman was “feverishly” looking for investors in a national search that economic factors made more difficult.
“They were doing this as the market basically cratered on us and interest rates doubled,” Weber said. “Each day those rates went up, it was harder and harder for ownership to get the funds.”
Goldman pulled it off, ultimately securing a financier, but the lengthy process delayed the construction work considerably. Eight or nine months was spent searching for lenders.
During that time the project wasn’t completely stalled. Weber and 33Realty, which also provides construction services, were working with village staff to get work permits and modify building plans. Doing this work ahead of time allowed 33Realty to get started quickly once funding was secured.
To secure the building, crews are putting in what is known as a footer, which is essentially a large square of foundation. A column will be constructed on top of the footer, which will support the building from the middle. The footer is going in space previously occupied by the building’s defunct first-floor swimming pool, which will be filled with concrete. Crews are also putting in steel reinforcements in four different locations, creating a metal bracket.
“We’re supporting it from the middle and connecting it all around basically,” said Weber.
Goldman has hired structural engineers, as well as a special inspector, to assist in every stage of the process as much of the project requires very precise specifications, such as the size of the rebar and the density of the concrete, according to Weber.
Village inspectors will also be monitoring the project, ensuring everything is in compliance with village code. Steve Cutaia, the village’s chief building official, told Wednesday Journal working with 33Realty has been an “extremely cooperative and professional process.”
The structural supports made to the building will not impact its attractiveness nor will the paved-over pool become an unusable area. Weber said Goldman intends to convert it into a small retail space and lease it to perhaps a coffee shop or dry cleaners.
The building’s former residential tenants are welcome to apply for their old apartments, but Weber does not expect any to return since they’ve likely made their homes elsewhere by now.
“If there are any former tenants that want to move back into the building, of course we’d love that,” he said.