Friday, September 21, 2007

Housing Horror of the Week: Lakeview Highrise Evacuated Because of Asbestos

This week, I'm starting a new feature called Housing Horror of the Week, to cover egregious abuses of homebuyers and renters by sleazy, unscrupulous developers and landlords; and insensitive, ham-fisted government officials.

This week's horror is yet another recent condo conversion, at 2930 N. Sheridan Road in Lakeview. The mostly-vacated building was still being renovated when a worker disturbed some asbestos pipe insulation, necessitating the immediate evacuation of the building's remaining residents, including new condo buyers who had just recently moved in.

My problem with the evacuation at this building was not the fact that it was done, which was only appropriate and necessary, but with the way it was conducted. Residents were given very short notice, apparantly less than 24 hours, to gather what personal effects they could and clear out. No assistance, such as help locating a place to sleep on such short notice, was offered, and the residents were evicted so quickly most of them did not have time to gather clothing and toiletries sufficient for an overnight stay elsewhere, let alone a month.

I'll be bringing more Housing Horror stories as they emerge and I can verify the story. This one appeared in the Chicago Tribune (title link)


Paradise said...

That's terrible. I hope the worker didn't inhale it. All those people's stuff might be ruined or it will be pretty expensive having it all cleaned. If you inhale asbestos, it stays there forever in your lung, It can't come out. Do you think the evacuation was extreme?

The North Coast said...

I hope the worker was wearing a respirator and following all the appropriate procedures. Too many companies don't enforce OSHA safety rules.

I don't believe people's stuff will be ruined, but I do believe it is a real hardship for these people not to be able to use their belongings for however long it takes to finish the removal. I do believe the evacuation was a little extreme.

Anonymous said...

I own a condo in the building and the developer put up everyone in the Hilton Downtown until Tuesday in which he provided fully furnished apartments two blocks north of the building free of charge. The city apparently has never evacuated a residential building like they did in this instance.

The North Coast said...

I'm glad to hear that you got decent housing at the developer's expense in the interim, and I hope you got essential personal belongings out.

This is the least that was owed the residents.

I'm sorry to report that other new developments have had to be evacuated because of unsafe construction or conditions, and that many others have conditions bad enough to be unsafe or unhealthy for residents but not bad enough to warrant evacuation.

I read on one blog, a few months back, of a new building in Bucktown, where residents were forced to rapidly evacuate a building of condos costing $1MM because the building was on the verge of collapse. They might be in the courts for years about this, and meanwhile have to live wherever while paying for places they can't live in. When I find out more verifiable facts about this nightmare I will post them.

formul8 said...

If the developer doesn't pay for this, then homeowners insurance most likely will because of involuntary displacement.