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You Paid For It: Scaffolding In Front Of Landmark City-Owned Building In West Town Has Been There Since 2015

CHICAGO (CBS) -- It's ugly, it's been there for years, and you paid for it.

The "it" in question is construction scaffolding that surrounds the old Goldblatt's Building at 1613-35 W. Chicago Ave. CBS 2's Steven Graves talked Thursday with neighbors who are sick of it and want to know why the city is dragging its feet.

One can see rust on the scaffolding, which extends for several feet along the sidewalk. People say it is hard even to look at such an eyesore, and they're angry – given their pride in the neighborhood.

"Everything is new except this," a 38-year resident said.

"This" is the sight of the scaffolding that goes on for about 200 feet – all in front of the historically preserved building, which is owned by the City of Chicago. It is n ow home to West Town Library and other city offices.

The scaffolding has been up so long, people have decorated it with colorful woven yarn.

"I said, this is another trick to keep this scaffolding where it's at," said the resident, who is a relative of a CBS 2 staffer.

The resident wants answers, and he's not alone. Neal McKnight, of the East Village Association, formally asked for information from the city.

"And they had given us an engineering report essentially saying that certain work needed to be done on the exterior of the building, but again, it had not been budgeted," McKnight said.

The Chicago Department of Transportation said the work that was needed was tuckpointing and window work, and it's ongoing. The canopy is still up to protect pedestrians.

After a week of asking how much it cost with no response, we did our own digging.

CBS 2 reached out to two other scaffolding companies that estimate the bill to put up the canopy in front of the old Goldblatt's building running $12,000 to $15,000. The canopy would also cost $1,000 to $3,000 a month to rent.

And this particular scaffolding canopy has been up since 2015 – all on the taxpayer's dime.

Preservation experts want to see more attention paid to jewels in the city like the old Goldblatt's building, which was constructed between 1921 and 1928 and was the first location for the regional department store chain founded by Maurice and Nathan Goldblatt.

"I don't think the city of Chicago would find this acceptable if this was owned by a private owner with these kinds of issues," said Ward Miller of Preservation Chicago. "So we want to encourage the city to work on this."

But for now, many just have to watch and wait for the canopy to come down.

CDOT said weather delayed work in the past. The scaffolding is slated to come down at the end of this year, unless the weather delays things more.

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