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City officials targeted Huron Street water tower for years

As water poured from a ruptured rooftop storage tower, City of Chicago building inspectors shouldn't have been surprised.
February 21, 2014 4:33:08 PM PST
As water poured from a ruptured rooftop storage tower at 409 W. Huron in Chicago's River North neighborhood Friday afternoon, City of Chicago building inspectors shouldn't have been surprised.

Four years ago the city first ordered building owners to "repair, replace or remove" the old water tower, the I-Team has learned. Repeated, similar demands have been made by the city since then and were apparently ignored.

Today, that water tower is still on top of the building's roof and still in a state of disrepair according to the most recent city inspection conducted Dec. 31, 2013.

409 W. Huron, which houses dozens of commercial tenants, was cited for numerous code violations following the Dec. 31 inspection. The violations included serious structural problems with the water tower that is now leaking and leaning.

Owners of the six-story structure were cited with 12 violation notices including failure to maintain the water tower, according to inspection records. Building Dept. officials report having found "dangerous and hazardous conditions on the southeast corner of the building, and the water tower?.with bulging, shifting and pulling away from the structure over the public way."

The city ordered building owners to obtain repair plans and permits to fix the problems, according to the most recent official paperwork.

The rooftop water tower at 409 W. Huron has been a concern to citizens as well.

There was a public complaint about the tower made to the city building department in February, 2010. It was that complaint four years ago that focused the city's attention on the water tower. Inspectors found structural problems in February 2010 and ordered them fixed. But when authorities returned to the building in June 2010 to follow-up, city records show the water tower again failed inspection.

The property owners were told in 2010 to "repair, replace or remove unsafe water tank," city records obtained by the I-Team state.

At the time, the building was ordered to provide an engineering report that detailed how those water tower issues were going to be addressed.

However, more than three years later, inspection records state that the water tower failed to pass structural and safety tests. In late December, property owners were again ordered to provide engineering plans to deal with the situation.

A spokesman for the city building department said authorities were at the scene on Friday afternoon trying to address the water tower problem and is working with building management and meeting with the owner.

Most of the violations of city code reported by inspectors on Dec. 31 involved elements of safety-including inadequate fire protection, lighting and exit signage.

Inspection reports also questioned the general soundness of the building structure, citing that owners "failed to maintain the exterior walls of a building or structure free from holes, breaks, loose or rotting boards or timbers and any other conditions which might admit rain or dampness to the walls.


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