BRIDGEPORT — The owner of a building whose facade came crashing to the ground late Sunday morning said he had been trying to get city approval for months to fix the facade of the building at 28th and Normal.
Simon Lam, who lives on the top floor of the building with his elderly mother, said he had sought permission from the city about six to eight months ago to shore up the facade of the stone masonry building, which he said was more than a century old.
"We were like, 'It's going to fall,'" he said. "This could have been all fixed."
However, he said he had been unable to get permission as the city required him to make inside repairs of a hand railing first.
A spokeswoman with the city buildings department couldn't immediately confirm Sunday where Lam's building had been in the approval process before the facade fell.
Lam said he wasn't home at the building at 501 W. 28th St. when it crashed down around 11 a.m., but his mother was.
"It sounded like an earthquake," he said she told him.
A window frame in a second floor apartment also came crashing down and bricks and other debris were piled up on the sidewalk Sunday afternoon. The tenants in that unit, Lam said, had gone to stay with friends as a curtain could be seen swinging in a breeze where the window was.
The building was evacuated; Lam said no children lived there. People's Gas crews shut off the gas.
The street outside the building was blocked off and a Chicago Police squad car was parked out front. Police officer Javier Rangel said officials were somewhat worried the rest of the facade could fall down.
Lam said he was waiting Sunday for a crew to come install a protective canopy over the sidewalk. Now that the facade fell, he said he's able to make the necessary repairs.
Lam said he had spent thousands of dollars on repairs to the building since he bought it about two years ago. He said it was fortunate it didn't happen on a weekday as there are a few schools nearby. No one was hurt in the incident.
"You got kids coming in and out," he said. "They should have been aware and made this a priority."
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