Waterview crane coming down
Loop North News

Photo by Steven Dahlman

(Above) The tower crane (left) at Waterview Tower in downtown Chicago was in the process of being dismantled Tuesday afternoon. (Click on image to view larger version.)

13-Jan-10 – Two contractors on the stalled Waterview project at West Wacker Drive and North Clark Street are busy this week dismantling the building’s tower crane. It is being done at the insistence of the City of Chicago, which says in a court document filed last June that without regular maintenance and daily inspections, the crane could collapse and there is an “imminent threat of injury to the public.”

Starting last Wednesday, crews assembled a smaller crane used to dismantle the tower crane. Over the weekend, they got to the crane itself, dismantling the counter-weight and jib – the horizontal boom from which the crane’s load is suspended. The machinery deck, located near the counter-weight, was scheduled to come down on Monday.

Anatomy of a Tower Crane

(Above) Anatomy of a tower crane, from SkyscraperPage.com. (Click on image to view larger version.)

65 stories short of goal

90 stories were planned when ground was broken on January 31, 2006. At 1,047 feet, Waterview Tower was going to be the fifth tallest building in Chicago when completed in 2009. The tower would feature a five-star Shangri-La Hotel, rooftop garden, luxury condominiums, and penthouse residences.

When construction stopped in the summer of 2008, only 25 floors had been built. The tower crane, erected in 2006, rises above the 25th floor and is attached to the 12th floor.

Last July, the City of Chicago filed an emergency motion in Circuit Court, seeking removal of the tower crane. The city also wanted the owners of the project to clean and secure the site, and register the building as an abandoned property.

Chicago-based Teng & Associates is the project’s developer, architect, and general contractor.

At a previous hearing on February 13, 2009, at which owners agreed to clean up the property, the court concluded the property was an abandoned construction site and ordered plywood put up around all floor openings, and the height of fencing along Wacker Drive increased to ten feet.

On March 5, it was agreed that if construction did not start within 90 days, the crane would be removed. That did not happen, and on July 2, the court ordered the crane dismantled.

Dismantling process will take two weeks

Bill McCaffrey, Director of Public Affairs for the Department of Buildings, says it will take about two weeks for the entire crane to come down. “You can still probably see some tower sections but those will come down over time. Our main concerns were, of course, the counter-weights and the jib.”

McCaffrey says there is no imminent threat to public safety, and that the Department of Buildings was inspecting the crane several times a month, with the most recent inspection on December 29, 2009.

“We were making sure it was as safe as it could possibly be. However, given the state of the economy, and given the public safety hazard, we didn’t want the crane to unnecessarily remain up in the air for an extended period of time.”

According to McCaffrey, two lien holders, Adjustable Forms, a concrete contractor based in Lombard, Illinois, and Central Crane Rental Services, owner of the tower crane, have taken responsibility for the crane. Both companies, he says, maintained the crane while the job site was shut down.

“You could speculate that...one of the reasons [Teng] didn’t want to take it down was the cost,” which reportedly will run about $800,000.

Meanwhile, some of the temporary canopies over pedestrian walkways near the construction site might be removed. Madeleine Doering, Chief of Staff for 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly, says an inspection by the Chicago Department of Transportation is pending.

“CDOT needs to determine which portions are safe to remove and restore the right-of-way,” says Doering.

Last June, Bank of America foreclosed on the unfinished project, trying to collect more than $20 million loaned to the developer by LaSalle Bank N.A., which was later acquired by BOA. Contractors have also filed claims for unpaid bills totaling about $85 million.

Numerous messages left with Teng’s Chicago office were not returned.

Read the July 2, 2009 court order:

By Steven Dahlman | Loop North News | Published 13-Jan-10 3:25 AM

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