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Brick Facade Crashes To Ground On Busy Chinatown Street During Storm

By Joe Ward | October 16, 2017 1:56pm | Updated on October 16, 2017 6:36pm
 A building's facade collapsed near Cermak Road and Wentworth Avenue Saturday night, damaging an ice cream shop next door on Wentworth.
A building's facade collapsed near Cermak Road and Wentworth Avenue Saturday night, damaging an ice cream shop next door on Wentworth.
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DNAinfo/Joe Ward

CHINATOWN — Torrential rainstorms this weekend caused a Chinatown building's facade to collapse, damaging a neighboring building and causing Wentworth Avenue to remain closed Monday.

The building's brick facade crumbled around 11 p.m. Saturday, according to neighbors. Housed in the building, at 2246 S. Wentworth Ave., was a first-floor grocer, a second-floor office and apartments on the third floor, they said.

A popular ice cream shop next door was damaged by the falling debris. No injuries were reported, though several building occupants were displaced, according to police.

As of Monday afternoon, the 2200 block of South Wentworth Avenue was closed to traffic in both directions. Only the sidewalk on the east side of the street, across the street from the building, was open along one of Chinatown's main business corridors and not far from the iconic sign that welcomes visitors to Chinatown.

Heavy rain fell much of the weekend and caused the damage, residents said.

"Too much rain," said one nearby store clerk of what happened to the building. "The building is too old."

The ice cream shop next store was damaged by the falling facade. [DNAinfo/Joe Ward]

The city's Department of Buildings inspected the building Monday and determined that water infiltration from the storms caused the collapse. A contractor will be hired to remove the remaining portion of the wall and install a canopy for public safety, department spokeswoman Mimi Simon said.

The 114-year-old building has failed two building inspections, one in 2013 and one in 2015, according to the Department of Buildings. Its owner was cited for allowing conditions "which might admit rain or dampness to the walls." Fractured masonry with "loose bricks" were found on the building's southeast corner, among other citations, according to city inspection records.

Frank Kwan used to operate a business out of the damaged building's first floor. He lives around the corner with his wife, who heard the falling facade Saturday night and told him to check out what happened.

"It was raining heavy up here," he said. "There was a little crack there. The water got in."

The 2200 block of South Wentworth Avenue remained closed to traffic Monday afternoon. [DNAinfo/Joe Ward]