West Town Apartments Evacuated After Sinkhole

The exact cause of the sinkhole was not known Friday afternoon as city inspectors evaluate the damage

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    NEWSLETTERS

    An apartment building and coach house were evacuated after a sinkhole formed between the West Town structures early Friday.

    An apartment building and coach house were evacuated after a sinkhole formed between the West Town structures early Friday.

    Someone flagged down police in the 1400 block of West Chicago Avenue about 1 a.m. after the 20-foot long by 20-foot wide hole opened, police News Affairs Officer Janel Sedevic said. The hole is about 10 feet deep, she said.

    Emergency crews evacuated the apartment and coach house behind it but no one was hurt, Fire Media Affairs Chief Larry Langford said.

    The hole formed in a concrete area between the coach house and the four-story building, which includes Butterfly Sushi Bar on the first floor and three floors of apartment units above, according to a man who works for the building manager.

    The owner of the building decided to vacate all eight units in the apartment and coach house, and would help find tenants other places to stay, according to Amy Simon, spokeswoman for the Chicago Department of Buildings.

    A passageway between the basement levels of the coach house and the apartment that had been sealed years ago by a previous owner collapsed under the concrete, possibly due to heavy rains earlier in the week, the building worker said. Tenants kept patio furniture on the area, which also housed the units’ air conditioners, he said. Restaurant workers used the path to take out trash.

    “The rain was probably the straw that broke the camel’s back,” he said as crews boarded up the sinkhole.

    The restaurant will be closed indefinitely, according to the building worker, who declined to give his name.

    Alexandra Shoemaker, 24, who lives on the second floor of the apartment, said she came home early Friday to numerous police and fire crews around the building, who told her the building was safe to stay in. She said she decided to stay at her boyfriend’s apartment after she saw the extent of damage this morning.

    “I looked down and the back patio was gone,” Shoemaker said.

    Witness and resident Melisa Rutkelis said the incident was frightening.

    "It's insane, just scary," she said. "You see straight down and it looks like an earthquake."

    The exact cause of the sinkhole was not known Friday afternoon as city inspectors evaluate the damage.