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Burst pipe leaves Otto's building unfit for use

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014 5:14 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 10:27 a.m. CDT
(Katie Dahlstrom – kdahlstrom@shawmedia.com)
The building at the corner of First Street and Lincoln Highway has been closed since Saturday after a burst pipe flooded it.

DeKALB – The city of DeKalb has declared the building at the corner of First Street and Lincoln Highway uninhabitable after water from a burst pipe flooded the building.

Ducky's Formal Wear, 112 E. Lincoln Highway and Otto's DeKalb, 118 E. Lincoln Highway, were forced to close Saturday after the pipe burst on the second floor of the building.

A building supervisor and fire prevention officer with the city will need to walk through the building to create a checklist of items that need to be addressed to assure the building is safe. A building division official will need to declare it habitable before it can reopen.

Pat Looney of Chicago, who owns the building and Otto's, said the burst pipe was the result of ongoing maintenance problems in the building. After maintenance was able to get the heat working, it thawed a frozen pipe on the second floor that had burst, releasing the water. The burst pipe also compromised the building's fire suppression system.

"Yeah, there's been a whole lot of issues with the building," Looney said. "It's an old building."

Ducky's owner Diane Hosey said she found four inches of water on the floor when she walked into her store at 9:30 a.m. Saturday. Some of the store's 1,000 dresses were ruined by brown water leaking from the pipe. She had to scramble to move her merchandise out before anything else was harmed.

"It felt kind of like getting hit by a train," Hosey said.

Her real estate agent was able to find her a temporary spot nearby at 134 E. Lincoln Highway, where she quickly moved her inventory to be open for regular business Sunday. Hosey hopes to have another location in downtown DeKalb secured by May.

"We really had to try to make the best of it," Hosey said, adding she was already looking for another location because of the problems in the building. "Especially since this is our busy season with proms and weddings."

Looney said the damage to Otto's was minimal compared with the damage on the Ducky's side. He would like to reopen in a week or two with permission from the city.

"I want to make sure we get the safety issues resolved," Looney said. "We figured it's the wise thing to get those fixed before we open."

DeKalb Fire Chief Eric Hicks said the building's reopening depends on when Looney can bring the building back up to code to assure it is safe.

Maintenance issues have plagued the building for years. Otto's was shut down in 2012 because of an electrical issue and Otto's Underground, the basement area of the nightclub, has been closed for more than a year because of flooding.

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