Just because you haven’t seen the men in space suits doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Since late July, an asbestos abatement crew–decked out in hazmat gear–has been working inside the abandoned Ravenswood Hospital (4550 N. Winchester Ave.) to clear the building of the noxious material.
With the job nearly complete, the next step is to begin demolition of the tower, announced Robert Nauert, director of finance and personnel at Lycee Francais Chicago, which plans to erect a new campus on the site. Nauert provided an update to the community Monday night at The Perfect Cup, 4700 N. Damen Ave.
“Things are starting to roll forward,” said Nauert. In another week or so, he anticipates a final air quality review from the City. If all goes well, demolition will commence the week of Sept. 24 and last through November; protective fencing around the property may be installed as early as this week.
Alas, no dramatic YouTube-friendly implosion is planned for the structure. Instead, the building will come down floor by floor. “It’s very controlled and systematic,” said Chad Matesi, project manager. Concrete will be crushed on site while other debris will be carted away via truck; construction vehicles are expected to follow a Damen-Sunnyside-Winchester route.
Residents should expect a fair amount of noise and the rare alley closure; Winchester will be closed to through traffic. One thing people shouldn’t notice is dust; hydrant access will allow the demolition team to keep dust contained, per city requirements.
Rats, another concern neighbors expressed at a previous community meeting, have also been neutralized, with city inspectors declaring the building rodent-free. Jim Poole of the 47th Ward office added that preventive baiting has taken place in a three-block radius around the site.
As the Ravenswood tower comes down, asbestos abatement will take place in a secondary structure on Wilson Avenue. “There’s mold maybe a foot high” and significant water damage, said Nauert. Demolition will follow on Wilson in December and the entire site should be reduced to dirt and gravel by early April 2013, according to a construction schedule provided by Lycee Francais.
Following a fatal accident in July, in which a trespassing teenager fell to his death, around-the-clock security patrols the site. Said Nauert, “That will stay in place until the buildings are down.”