Oak Park building evacuation: Residents now have just hours to evacuate apartments deemed unsafe

Oak View Tower has unusual sloping of floors, building inspection found
OAK PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- Residents of a seven-story apartment building in Oak Park have just hours to evacuate their homes Wednesday after a building inspection found sloping floors, sparking structural concerns.

Residents of Oak View Tower on North Boulevard were given only five days' notice to get out of their homes. The final deadline is midnight.

A steady stream of movers have rolled out of the building all day. Many of the residents are moving to buildings owned by the same management companies nearby.

"This building is a neighborhood," said Debra Leonard-Porch, who has lived in Oak View Tower for 15 years. "Everybody knows everybody."

About half of the residents are moving right next door to another building managed by 33 Realty.

During an Oct. 22 building inspection, the village of Oak Park found unusual sloping of the floors throughout the building, something residents had noticed too.

The village gave the building's management company until last Friday to submit a structural stability report by an engineer. Because 33 Realty failed to do so, the village has deemed the building in "imminent danger of failure or collapse" and told residents they must be out by midnight on Wednesday.

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Inspectors also found structural issues with the building, and management is taking no chances, working with the village to get a structural stability report.

"We are in agreement with the safety of the residents, it's better to work with the village to evacuate everyone and then the actual structural engineering report will come back in three to four weeks," said Mary Gibala of 33 Realty.
Resident Joyce Brown showed ABC7 separation from her walls and ceiling in her apartment on the first floor.

"I didn't know the building was coming down; I've been here like 10 years and the stuff in the building in my bedroom is coming away from the structure, and I didn't know but I got to move," she said.

Residents paid rent on their apartments just days ago.

"What about my rent and my security deposit?" wondered Eddie Flowers, a resident. "I didn't leave on my own and the worst, he doesn't answer his phone."

Most residents said the management company is helping as much as possible, even hiring movers.

"We don't have many options and they've been very nice, sympathetic, empathetic," said Leonard-Porch.

Everyone did have a place to stay Wednesday. Ten residents are moving into the property next-door to the east, about six moved out of the building entirely and some are staying in a hotel or with family.
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