Tuesday, September 06, 2005

London Bridge

When I think of the children’s song “London Bridge is Falling Down” I tend to think of our back porches.

To put it mildly, our porches are a Lincoln Park tragedy waiting to happen. To those of your not in the know about Chicago land news, roughly two years ago groups of people in an apartment building were having a party in one of the more popular north side neighborhoods named Lincoln Park. As with most parties with recent college grads and twenty somethings that comprise a good part of the population in Lincoln Park, guests spilled out on to the back porches. The porches fell under the strain of the numerous people and pan caked one on top of the other causing thirteen deaths and multiple casualties.

In short, it was a nightmare---one I don’t want repeated in our little neck of the woods. The last thing we need is friggin lawsuits flying around and deaths and/or injuries to contend with.

As a result we have spent a majority of this calendar year getting estimates, doing due diligence on contractors and trying to figure out how in God’s name were going to pay for it all.

At first we were simply going to repair our porches but as the estimates started rolling in and individual after individual told us the dire state of our porches, our project turned from a repair to a replace. Either way, we weren’t (and aren’t) even remotely prepared to deal with the City of Chicago Department of Buildings and their brutal permit process.

Ladies and Gentlemen the bureaucracy surrounding getting anything built or getting a permit to get anything built in the city of Chicago is simply frightening. I’d rather be thrown in the stocks without food and water for a few days. I’d rather take Calculus again than even attempt to negotiate that nightmare of a process downtown. The thought of going to DCAP (Department of Construction and Permits) honestly breaks me out in a rash.

Some of the yahoos that we got estimates from expected us, a bunch of novices, to navigate the getting blueprints, a structural engineer, an architect and chat with a project manager from DCAP all on our own.

Yeah right…

While we were murky on who was going to do the work at that point, we did come up with a budget for the porches and some other work that we wanted to get done and start the process of levying a special assessment.

Now I know that the process sounds a little ass backwards but we had to start collecting money for whatever portion of the project had to be done. We couldn’t wait too much longer to get the financial portion together lest we spin our wheels and the project never gets off the ground.

Nonetheless, we as an association also had a “Plan B” in our back pocket.

As I’ve mentioned, our porches are in horrible at best. They really are in the process of falling down and should have been either repaired or replaced when the building was rehabbed. The catch 22 is that seeing that people couldn’t come up with their portion of he special assessment out of thin air, we had to offer several types of payment plans with full up front payment being the optimal option.

Obviously that was not going to be an option with most of our unit owners. Myself included.

We need the money right away to fix our porches but there was no way several tens of thousands of dollars was going to materialize out of nowhere. What’s a cash strapped association to do?

Get a bank loan of course.


Tony Grant said...

I feel your pain!! I'm from NYC and we had our Condo renovated and it was a nightmare

The Woodlawn Wonder said...

Thanks Tony.

We wouldn't have to be going through this drama if our---and I'm being generous here---"developer" had simply done things the correct way. Trust me, I haven't even gotten to the good stuff. Keep on checking back.

Fighting the good fight.