CHICAGO — Crews safely took down a leaning River North water tower Saturday afternoon a day after it sent down "torrential downpour" on the building it sits atop of.
By Saturday morning, two cranes and dozens of men working with private demolition contractors had already worked for hours to ensure the rickety, massive tank would come down safely and in one piece.
Two of the men worked from a yellow cage hoisted from one of the cranes, welding the tank into a single piece that wouldn't fall apart before fastening on cables before a crane lifted it out of place.
"Crane equipment is on site and work is ongoing to disassemble the structure," said Mimi Simon, a Chicago Department of Buildings spokeswoman. "The nature of demolition work on the compromised tank requires meticulous and often staged processes with worker and public safety taking precedence."
The water tower, located atop 409 W. Huron St., started spewing water around 1:30 p.m. Friday, said Ilene Auerbach, who works at Hobart Core, a marketing agency, located across the alley from the building.
She said a "torrential downpour" of water lasted five to 10 minutes, she said, causing firefighters to evacuate workers.
Emergency crews responded to a call of a water tower "leaning and leaking" about 1:45 p.m., said Officer Daniel O'Brien, a police spokesman. Adjacent buildings were evacuated and traffic was redirected as a safety precaution, he said.
The building failed its annual inspection on Dec. 31, said Mimi Simon, spokeswoman for the city's Buildings Department.
It "was cited for several building code violations, including failing to maintain the structure, including the water tower, in a safe and stable condition," she said. The building's owner must submit a structural engineer's report and make the necessary repairs, she said.
City records show the building was also cited for violations related to the water tower in 2010. Records show those violations were never remedied.
Simon said the city is seeking "legal remedies," and will expedite the building owner's court date.
In July, a wooden water tower atop a nine-story building in Lakeview plunged down and injured three people.