City sues 95 buildings over Life Safety violations
Loop North News



(Above) Main entrance of 209 East Lake Shore Drive, an 18-story luxury co-op in the Gold Coast. Photo by VHT.

City sues 95 buildings over Life Safety violations

Multi-million-dollar and modest residences alike work to win compliance and avoid $500/day fines.

16-Jun-15 – Owners of residential buildings in Chicago that have been too slow to comply with the city’s new “Life Safety” ordinance are getting not just a list of violations but a summons to appear in Cook County Circuit Court.

95 residential buildings have been sued by the city this year, each housing complaint filed in the Municipal Division of Circuit Court.

Photo by Wayne Lorentz Many of these buildings are located in upscale neighborhoods north of the Loop. One is in River North, four are in Streeterville, and 14 are in the Gold Coast.

They include 209 East Lake Shore Drive, where a nine-room home sold for $7.4 million last year. Another is Fulton House, a condominium on the west bank of the Chicago River across from Wolf Point.

(Left) Fulton House, a former cold storage warehouse built in 1898 and converted into a 15-story residential building in 1981. Photo by Wayne Lorentz. (Click on images to view larger versions.)

One of the residences sued by the city is Marina City. A lawsuit was filed against the River North condominium on March 17. Violations are not detailed but the city says in its lawsuit that Marina Towers Condominium Association has not been in compliance with municipal code since February 6, 2015.

The lawsuit asks the court to require MTCA to correct violations or else pay $500 for every day not in compliance. After 129 weekdays since February 6, the penalty could reach $64,500.

In extreme cases, the city can ask the court to appoint a receiver to correct the violations, order a lien on the property to recover costs to the city of correcting the violations itself, or ask that the building be demolished.

Condo started on repairs right away but not fast enough for city

The ordinance requires a rigorous Life Safety Evaluation, which the residential property at Marina City underwent last November. While waiting for results, based on comments from inspectors, the 896-unit condo association told unit owners and residents in February that it did not expect to pass.

“There are a number of things the inspectors want us to either repair or replace,” said an unidentified director in a monthly report. “We have already begun work on complying with some of the easy things that the inspectors verbally requested so that we can have them finished as soon as possible.”

One of the concerns at Marina City was making sure doors to condo units closed completely on their own if opened. At one unit, for example, a doorstop was removed and placed on the renter’s kitchen table with a note saying it “cannot be used on a fire door.”

When MTCA appeared in court on April 15, the condo association’s attorney, Donald C. Clark, Jr., told Judge George F. Scully “we were well on our way to fixing the code violations.”

One setback by happenstance was at least well timed. While inspecting Marina City’s commercial property, a city inspector, says MTCA, “noticed that our balcony railings are rusting.”

The inspector asked that railings on all 1,280 balconies be inspected to make sure they are safe. Coincidentally, Marina City is in the middle of an every-two-year inspection of concrete and balcony railings.

(Right) The base of Marina City’s east tower parking ramp, seen here on June 1, is covered to protect passersby from concrete restoration work. Photo by Steven Dahlman

Photo by Steven Dahlman

The condo association’s next court appearance is scheduled for July 8 but MTCA says it is “on track” toward completing the work and having the building re-inspected by then.

“Once all the work is complete, we increase our chances of the case being dismissed and avoiding any possible fines,” MTCA told owners and residents in June. “Any unsafe conditions will be repaired as quickly as possible.”

MTCA appeared frustrated by the process, telling owners and residents “now that the city is involved we may have less flexibility on how and when these repairs are made.”

Photo by Lisa Napoles

(Above) 227 East Walton Place, a 13-story, 24-unit apartment building designed by Chicago architect Harry Weese and built in 1956. Photo by Lisa Napoles


  • 201 East Chestnut Street
  • 227 East Walton Street
  • 233 East Erie Street (Streeterville Center)
  • 253 East Delaware Place

Gold Coast:

  • 100 East Walton Street (Walton Colonnade)
  • 1110 North Lake Shore Drive (case dismissed May 27)
  • 1120 North Lake Shore Drive
  • 1225 North State Parkway
  • 1260 North Astor Street
  • 1300 North Lake Shore Drive
  • 1325 North Astor Street (Astor-Banks Condominium)
  • 1340 North Astor Street (Astor House; case dismissed May 20)
  • 1344 North Dearborn Street
  • 1440 North Lake Shore Drive
  • 1500 North Lake Shore Drive
  • 2 East Oak Street
  • 209 East Lake Shore Drive
  • 33 East Cedar Street

By Steven Dahlman | Loop North News |


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