GARFIELD RIDGE — The South Side is about to lose one of its storied landmarks.
The wacky "Windy City" sculpture that spent almost two decades in front of a row of welding shops on a stretch of Central Avenue between Midway Airport and Stevenson Expressway will be dismantled this week and moved to a new home.
About three months ago, Mike Kuper, the sculpture's 62-year-old owner and boss of K-3 Welding at 4840 S. Central Ave., got word from building owner Combined Warehouses that his lease would not be renewed.
The property will be demolished to make room for a new FedEx terminal, Kuper said.
The news meant Kuper would have until Dec. 1, when his lease expires and the wrecking ball shows up, to pack up almost four decades worth of heavy machinery, electrical equipment and tools and find somewhere else to set up shop.
"This is where you put your big boy pants on and say, 'At least we're still in business,'" Kuper said.
Flush with a year's worth of work scheduled in 2016, K-3 Welding partnered with Abbey Metal Services Inc. and plans to move its business to the company's booming warehouse at 814 W. 120th St.
That's where the Windy City sculpture will find its new home.
Built in the 1996, the swirly, red-and-orange-and-yellow sculpture — topped with what looks like an airplane propeller and an abstract face with its tongue sticking out — served as proof that Kuper could building anything for his clients.
If a customer asked if Kuper had the ability to complete a complex project, he pointed at the sculpture.
"If I could built THAT," Kuper said, "I could build what you want."
Though he's dealt with the raw emotions that come with moving a business and its rich history to another part of town, Kuper said it's important to stay positive and move forward.
"It's a labor of love," said Kuper, who has managed projects including the steel railings at Soldier Field and the boat cages at Chinatown's Ping Tom Park. "Gotta keep the ball moving forward, or in football terms, move the rock."
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: