Neighbors complain about Woodlawn dormitory construction

Staff Writer

People living near the construction site of the Woodlawn Residential and Dining Commons, a new University of Chicago (U. of C.) dormitory between Woodlawn and University avenues north of 61st Street, complained to representatives from the city project principal Turner Construction and the U. of C. at a meeting Thursday evening.

The dorm is expected to house 1,200 students when it opens before the start of the 2020 to ‘21 school year.

“Our misery started July 1, when you started digging up the ground,” said Andrzej Mikolaj Gasienica, who lives at the University Center condominium building, 1145–1161 E. 61st St. He went on to detail several instances of the construction affecting him and the century-old building: backhoes shaking the ground, white dust from gravel trucks coating his vehicle, noise. He said the construction started at 6 a.m. and continued through 7:30 p.m.

“I can still hear the beeps of the backhoe truck in my head,” said Melissa Meltzer Warehall, who also lives in University Village. “It’s really awful, into the evening. If there’s any way it could stop at 5 or 6 at the latest, we’d really appreciate it.”

Officials said in response that their monitors have not detected vibrations from the construction strong enough to cause damage and that no construction has or will occur on Sundays. They said that compensation for any damages caused by the construction was not a topic for discussion at the meeting.

Wendy Williams, executive director of Community Partnerships at U. of C.’s Office of Civic Engagement, said that every email her office receives from residents is shared with the project’s contractors and subcontractors.

“Our job is not to be the guard on the block and to let you guys know when things are happening that you told us wouldn’t be happening,” said Warehall.

A construction official later said that the construction principal will ensure that no workers, who may not have been briefed on the construction rules, will park on 61st Street.

Residents later noted that no trucks had idled on the street outside of their residence and thanked the officials for it.

Williams announced that all households between Cottage Grove and Dorchester avenues and 60th and 61st streets would receive a mailer about the next community meeting in September. She asked that neighbors keep relaying information to her office.

“It’s definitely getting better, so we really do appreciate you letting us know and encourage you to continue letting us know.”

Warehall thanked Williams for doing more to contact residents around the construction site. She said one of her neighbors who has lived in the building knew nothing about the new dorm’s construction until it began.