BUCKTOWN — Residents of Centrum Bucktown, a luxury apartment building next to The 606, are without heat on the coldest day the city has seen in years.
The issue has been going on for more than a week for some residents.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” said 37-year-old Amanda Bellomy, who lives in a two-bedroom apartment in the building, 1734 N. Leavitt St., with her 38-year-old fiance, Tim Huth.
“They touted this as luxury real estate for Bucktown, luxury apartment rentals, that we have all of these amenities and staff on site. … I haven’t even seen the woman who’s managing the building once,” Bellomy said.
Said Huth: “In any circumstance, there is no way this is acceptable.”
The couple’s lives have been in limbo since Jan. 18 when their heat first went out. Since then, they have had intermittent heat followed by long stretches of no heat at all.
Many of Huth and Bellomy’s neighbors have experienced similar problems, according to interviews with other residents who declined to be named. The building houses 94 apartments total with rents in the $2,300-$3,100 range.
On Wednesday, as temperatures felt as cold as 50 below zero outside, the property management company, 33 Realty, sent out an email to all residents, apologizing for the “major inconvenience.”
In the email, the management company said they were working on getting more space heaters for tenants while they worked to resolve the underlying issue.
“Due to the severity of the weather temperature outdoors it has caused units to unfortunately plummet in temperature. We are doing everything we can to get supplemental heating elements to heat up the units during this time,” the email reads.
“We apologize for the major inconvenience and thank you for your patience. Unfortunately, the building nor Chicago has ever experienced weather this extreme. We did not fully understand how the heating system or the building would take the extreme cold temperature. We are working diligently to get more heat into the units.”
Some residents, including Huth and Bellomy, also received a gift basket filled with nuts, chocolate and wine with a note that read, “We want to provide a special gift to thank you for your patience during the heating debacle we experienced last week. We did everything we could to restore power to the heating system as quickly as possible. We can’t thank you enough!”
It’s unclear exactly what caused the heat to stop working. Attempts to reach the management company were unsuccessful.
On Wednesday, Huth and Bellomy’s thermostat read 48 degrees, well below the city code. Under Chicago law, the temperature inside an apartment is required to be at least 68 degrees from 8:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m., and at least 66 degrees from 10:30 p.m.-8:30 a.m.
Huth works from home as a project manager. On Wednesday, he bundled up in a coat and a scarf to do his work.
But Bellomy, who works for a market research firm, scooped up their dog, a yorkie bichon mix, and went to her boss’s place for warmth. Like many Chicagoans, Bellomy was instructed to stay home from the office Wednesday because of the dangerously cold weather.
“It’s just really unfortunate that you’re banned from work, and then you can’t even be home because there’s no heat. I debated going into my office when it’s closed just so I can have warmth,” Bellomy said.
Huth said the property management company has provided them with one space heater, but it’s not enough to heat their 1,100-square-foot apartment. He said when he tried to get more of them, no one from the property management would help him.
Huth said not only has the management company failed to fix the problem in more than two weeks, but they also haven’t agreed to discount their rent.
“I am not paying $3,100 a month to have intermittent heat and then have them tell me, ‘It’s the weather. I’m sorry,'” he said. “I don’t think I should have to pay rent until this is fixed.”
It’s not the first time Huth and Bellomy have lost heat in their Bucktown apartment building.
Last winter, around Christmastime, the couple said they lost heat for about a week. At that time, Centrum Bucktown had only been open for a couple of months. Huth and Bellomy were among the first tenants to move into the building.
It was a trying experience, Bellomy said, but they were able to get a $700 discount on their rent and utilities. That was before the original developers of the building, John McLinden and Arthur Slaven, sold the building to New York-based Harlington Realty. The $51 million deal went through last year, according to Crain’s.
Both Bellomy and Huth said they’re disappointed in the new owners and their handling of the situation, especially because it’s unclear if they’ll receive concessions this time around.
Calls to Harlington Realty were not returned Wednesday.
Temperatures Wednesday, the first day of a days-long bout of bitter cold, were only expected to get as warm as 14 degrees below zero, and it has already broken a record for being the coldest recorded Jan. 30, according to the National Weather Service.
However, this weekend will be significantly warmer, with temperatures near 40 degrees expected on Saturday.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday announced that the city’s Department of Buildings will be aggressively working to restore heat in buildings throughout Chicago, calling it an “emergency” situation.
“We are not waiting 48 hours for the courts to reopen to hold landlords accountable, so I have directed Commissioner Frydland to use her police powers to protect the safety of Chicagoans and make emergency repairs to restore heat in buildings where landlords are failing to do their jobs,” Emanuel said in a press release.
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