WICKER PARK — A Cook County judge ordered more emergency work be done to repair a Wicker Park building after falling debris from the building struck a woman in the head, seriously injuring her.
Annie Shea Wheeler was struck by falling debris from the vacant building at 1227 N. Milwaukee Ave. on April 6, less than three weeks after the city initially ordered the property owner to repair its facade.
Wheeler, 22, suffered a skull fracture, a brain bleed and a concussion, among other injuries, according to her lawyer. She’s now leaving Chicago to move back with her family in Michigan, just weeks before her planned graduation from Columbia College.
A court-appointed receiver, Curt Bettiker, oversaw stabilization of the facade on April 7, a city spokesperson said Monday. Additional scaffolding was also erected against the building and to cover more of the surrounding sidewalk.
But Bettiker said Tuesday he still has immediate safety concerns about the state of the building, including additional limestone not yet removed from the facade and potentially loose bricks now exposed after the incident. He called its condition “still dangerous and hazardous.”
“The building is still dangerous and hazardous as the fact that the front facade has been unattended for years. You know, my concern is we have scaffolding up there that is shored to a not-so-sound building,” he said. “There’s little things that can be done today, that should be addressed immediately.”
Judge Joseph Sconza ordered Bettiker to complete the emergency repairs and to work with the building’s owner and city’s law department to address less pressing code violations going forward.
Bettiker said he could complete the work in the next several days.
A city spokesperson did not return a request for additional comment.
The 1227 N. Milwaukee Ave. building is owned by a company called Virgin Future Properties, LLC Series 5, according to county records. Deborah M. Peterson, who is listed as the company’s agent and manager on the state’s Secretary of State website, has not returns requests for comment.
Attorney Monty Boatright, who is representing the LLC, said Tuesday it’s his “belief” Peterson is one of the company’s owners. He said he’s been in communication with Peterson and a manager for the building.
Boatright declined to comment further through an employee at his office.
On March 21, the city’s Department of Buildings told the property owner to fix the crumbling building following an anonymous 311 tip, a city spokesperson said.
The city instructed the building’s owner to install scaffolding above the sidewalk, hire an engineer to assess the building’s facade, and to “immediately engage a licensed masonry contractor to make emergency repairs,” according to a Buildings Department statement.
By the day of the collapse, the property owner had put up a “heavy-duty canopy” but had not made any of the required repairs, the city said.
Wheeler has retained personal injury law firm Romanucci and Blandin to represent her. Attorney Bruno Marasso said Monday that their legal team is investigating negligence by both the property owner and Chicago Scaffolding Inc., which installed the scaffolding outside the building last month.
The firm filed a complaint against them earlier this month. A Chicago Scaffolding employee declined to comment Monday.
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