WICKER PARK — After a barrage of mean online comments over an oft-vandalized Audi left in a parking lot for two years — and a call from an alderman — the lot's owner said he decided to remove the car.
"People were leaving comments that the car's problems were my fault," said Phil Raimondi, who operates the 15-space parking lot behind his family' Hollywood Cleaners, 1438 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Wicker Park.
On Friday, Raimondi said that he arranged to have the car towed on Thursday and paid $250 to do it.
The car's owner had left the country to help an ailing parent for what was expected to be a short trip, but the visit ended up lasting much longer.
Raimondi said he got a call from Ald. Joe Moreno (1st) after a story about the car was published on Wednesday by DNAinfo. Moreno told Raimondi that he could get a ticket from the city, Raimondi says.
"I said it's a private lot, they can't do that," Raimondi said.
Moreno was not immediately available for comment early Friday.
Raimondi, who has been communicating with the car's owner, said the car owner is not blaming him for the vehicle's troubles. He said he has been paid "here and there" for allowing the car to remain, though he could have rented the space out. Raimondi added he tried to keep the car secured.
Referring to people who had thrown rocks through the car's windows and covered the exterior in graffiti, Raimondi said, "I can't control these animals on the street that do this stuff."
After the vandals put raw eggs in the seats of the car, Raimondi used cardboard boxes from his dry cleaners, garbage bags and duct tape to cover the windows.
Before having the car towed Thursday, he informed the owner, he said. "Do what you got to do, Phil," responded the man, according to Raimondi.
If the owner, who is supposed to come back to Chicago next week, doesn't retrieve the car, it will be eventually scrapped or sold by the towing company.
Raimondi says the car's owner agreed to reimburse him for the $250 towing fee.
Featuring cardboard windows and several graffiti tags and visible from the CTA Blue Line as the train rolls past, the car was such a curiosity that it inspired its own Facebook page: Taggin' Wagon on Wicker Park.
The back of the car. [Photos by DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser]
The front of the car.
Broken windows covered with cardboard, garbage bags and duct tape.
Raimondi in the now empty space where the Audi was for at least two years.