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Crumbling Buildings Turned to Rubble on Judge's Orders

By Benjamin Woodard | January 16, 2013 12:56pm

ROGERS PARK — A judge ordered the demolition of a troubled set of vacant and crumbling buildings on Damen Avenue after residents complained of a risk to public safety.

A small crew of contractors — armed with a large Caterpillar tractor — reduced 7312-13 N. Rogers Ave. to a pile of rubble Tuesday, leaving only a sidewalk-facing wall upright.

"The judge clearly knew the imminent danger based on photos and the inspector testimony and issued the order of demolition as an emergency," said Susan Massel, a spokeswoman for the Chicago Department of Buildings.

Ray Matos, who lives around the corner on Damen Avenue, called the city last month to complain about a gaping hole he saw in the building's roof.

The city sent an inspector who found six code violations, according to the city. The building was condemned for being an "imminent danger to public."

Matos said he was happy to see the building come down.

"It’s sad to see it happen, but it's something that had to happen," he said. "The big question now is what will go" in the empty space.

The 45-year-old resident said he and other neighbors are hoping for a community garden until a developer can be found.

The most recent business at the location was Ho Tavern, but it closed about two years ago.

According to records with the Cook County Recorder of Deeds, Brian Keohane is the owner of the property.

Keohane could not be reached for comment.

Mike Land, staff assistant to Ald. Joe Moore (49th), said last month the property owner hadn't paid property taxes for four years and had been "unresponsive" to his office's requests to fix the building.