The River City condominium complex was constructed in 1986. The seventeen-story building has 446 residential units located above the third level. The condominiums are managed through an owner association. The three lower floors of the structure are owned and managed by Marc Realty, which leases the space to commercial tenants. Marc Realty also operates the buildings major mechanical equipment, which is located in a sub-basement area of the facility, well below the normal level of the Chicago River.
A unique feature of the luxury condominium complex is the pleasure boat marina that was placed below. Carved out from what was the east bank of the river, the marina permits owners to dock their pleasure boats directly under the building structure.
“I immediately knew that while water entering into any building along the river poses a problem, water coming into River City could lead to catastrophe,” Jim said.
He immediately started calling in his engineering staff and headed towards River City.
“I’ve seen a lot of things in buildings,” Jim said. “But nothing prepared me for what I found when I got to River City”.
By the time Jim arrived at the building, water levels had already reached the point that it was impossible to enter the lower levels of the structure.
“All I could really do at first was just watch as water poured into the entire lower levels,” he said.
The Chicago Fire Department arrived on the scene and working directly with Jim, determined that the facility should be evacuated immediately until the flood waters could be controlled and the extent of damage to critical infrastructure and process piping could be determined.
On July 24th, hundreds of tenants were ordered to immediately vacate the building. As they left, some were informed that they would most likely be able to return in about ten hours. In fact, the next time tenants would be permitted to enter their homes would be August 14th, twenty-one days later.
At the time of the evacuation, all Jim and the Chicago Fire Department knew was that water levels had clearly exceeded the level of the building’s boiler and chiller rooms. Also underwater was a ComEd electrical vault and the buildings switch gear and telecommunication rooms.