One year after fire, Rolling Meadows condo residents allowed to return
After more than a year of uncertainty, Pat Jirkovsky is finally moving back into her home at the Carriageway Condominiums in Rolling Meadows.
A fire broke out on May 25, 2009 in the center part of the building at 5200 Carriageway Drive, leaving residents displaced and scrambling to find other accommodations.
"I'm happy to be home," said Jirkovsky. "Now we can have peace of mind."
Jirkovsky and her family found accommodations after the fire at the Saratoga Condominiums just down the street. Her daughter, Tina Graham, said that it was nice at first, but it was difficult to ever get comfortable.
They described it as an extended stay at a hotel, because they left their major belongings at home and took mostly clothes with them. They did, however, accumulate more belongings over the year that they are transferring to their Carriageway home.
The two outer wings of the building opened for residents to move back in Wednesday, but the center part won't be ready until late July, according to building manager Joan Anderson.
The last step of the process was for inspections to be done. These finished at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, allowing many residents to start moving in the following morning.
"I cannot say enough for the city," said Anderson.
Over the time of displacement, many residents grew angry with the pace of work being done. They were originally told they would move back in December, which has now turned into late June, and July for some.
The fire was mostly concentrated in the center of the building. Jirkovsky kept all of her furniture and many belongings in the apartment while they lived at their temporary residence in the Saratoga complex.
Although they are getting settled back in, there is still work to be done. The building's hallway floors are unfurnished and lack carpeting, and the laundry room is not yet in working condition.
As Jirkovsky walked around her long-awaited apartment, she was excited to start planting flowers and decorating her patio for the Fourth of July.
"I can't wait to fix up my patio," she said.
Jirkovsky said one of the biggest struggles of being displaced was the inability to make long-term plans. A family vacation was planned for January because they were told they would be back home in February, but the date kept getting pushed back, which threw things off.
"I'm just glad it's over with," she said. "Now we can start planning."
For the time being, construction workers continue to mill around and the building is still surrounded by a fence, but Jirkovsky and others are finally settled at home.