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Construction Quakes Irk Neighbors Near Belmont-Clark Development

By Ariel Cheung | September 16, 2015 6:15am

LAKEVIEW — A new development is shaking up Belmont and Clark, but not in a good way.

As deep foundation is laid for an eight-story, mixed-use building at 3200 N. Clark St., neighbors and businesses nearby have dealt with heavily vibrating walls and toppled belongings for a week.

The worst part is: Nobody warned them, they said.

"We didn't have any idea. They could have given us two weeks' notice or put up fliers. If you're not a 9-to-5er, it's really inconvenient," said Michonne Proulx, whose home faces the alley behind the development.

Proulx said her entire building has been shaking every weekday since the vibrating work began Sept. 9. She and her boyfriend consider themselves lucky they didn't lose anything — particularly his extensive camera collection perched on shelves — but know other neighbors who weren't as fortunate.

"We had no idea of the scale or the interruption it would cause us at home, including getting sleep. We understand the neighborhood has to change and all that, but it sure would be nice to be notified," she told DNAinfo.

Over the past week, Ald. Tom Tunney's office has been advising neighbors to take things off walls to keep them safe during the month-long process, said Bennett Lawson, chief of staff for Tunney (44th).

Still, no notice went out to neighbors before the vibration construction began, Lawson said.

Construction crews started installing 56 caissons Sept. 9, requiring vibrating equipment to shift the ground to make room for a temporary casing, in which the caisson — a reinforced concrete shaft — is poured about 20 feet into the ground. The casing is then removed with the vibrating equipment.

The process takes about 20 minutes, and crews have been installing three or four caissons each day, roughly between 8-11 a.m. Clark Construction Group said it expects the caisson contractor to finish in about a month.

A vibration monitor told the company that it had not breached the threshold of allowed vibration as of Friday.

"That's just a natural part of construction. And what's going to be there is a big, beautiful building," David Blitz, co-founder of BlitzLake Partners, told DNAinfo on Tuesday.

Blitz said the developers worked with Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) to take the "necessary precautions and steps as needed with all neighbors to really pacify their concerns."

Next door at The Alley and Taboo Tabou, 3228 N. Clark St., items were crashing to the floor last Wednesday as the building "shuttered and shifted," said Mark Thomas, owner and past aldermanic candidate.

Mark Thomas, owner of The Alley, fears his building, originally a theater built in the 1920s, will be irreparably damaged by construction next door for the Belmont-Clark development. [DNAinfo Chicago/Ariel Cheung]

"My concern is that the foundation will give way. I just want to make sure that our foundation is safe and doesn't just fall into their side of the property," Alley controller David Mathews said.

"With the amount of shaking and rattling going on, I don't feel comfortable at all," he added.

On Friday noise grew so loud that employees standing four feet apart had to shout to hear each other. Thomas said a BlitzLake official has been doing the best he can to alleviate the growing pains, but Thomas fears his 80-year-old building won't be able to withstand the daily vibrations.

With the new building set just four inches from The Alley's south wall, Thomas said developers would be installing metal sheets in the ground to prevent earth displacement that could affect The Alley's foundation.

Construction at 3200 N. Clark St. is disrupting neighbors and businesses as crews install a deep foundation. [DNAinfo Chicago/Ariel Cheung]

An engineer told him the caissons "would be nothing compared to putting sheets in the ground. My concern is the physical structure, and I don't see how we're going to get through this without serious damage," Thomas told DNAinfo.

The project is set for completion in late 2016, but that might be too late for Proulx.

"This is making us want to move. It's blocking our view, and there's barely any parking now. I can't imagine it with an eight-story building," she said.

The $50 million transit-oriented development at 3200 N. Clark St. will feature 90 apartment units, limited parking and a 30,000-square-foot Target. [Provided/Howard Hirsch Associates]

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