City won't let victims of blaze get belongings

   ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Staff photographer
   ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Staff photographer
Posted: February 15, 2011

Former tenants stormed the barbed-wire gates that surround what's left of the Windermere Court apartments, angry, frustrated and desperate to salvage whatever parts of their lives the fire of Jan. 10 left behind.

Following news that the owners planned to start demolition of the property by yesterday, groups of tenants protested outside the building, at 48th and Walnut streets, on Saturday, Sunday and yesterday.

Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell yesterday successfully lobbied a state court to delay the demolition for two days.

"The tenants are being very disrespected," Blackwell said. "It's unbelievable. People have been victimized by the fire. They shouldn't be victimized over and over."

Blackwell said the building's owners filed a court motion on Friday claiming that they had spoken with tenants about the demolition, but residents say that's not the case.

"They had no contact with us," said Casey Gleason. "The owners should have a plan to contact people and say they're sorry. This is our property in there."

Gleason has since relocated to Powelton Village, but she was back at the Windermere Sunday where she started an impromptu protest, demanding to be let in.

"From anger to fear to hopelessness . . . that's just how it goes," Gleason said.

Fran Burns, commissioner of the Department of Licenses & Inspections, said the city has no authority to allow tenants in. L&I declared the building eminently dangerous and ordered immediate repair or demolition.

"We understand it's going to be demolished and it can't be our home anymore," said Michelle Kreischer, 23, who lived there for two years. "But if we can get something, anything why can't we have that right?"

If she could, Kreischer would grab the family jewelry, some photos and a handmade quilt made by her aunt.

Several residents have told the

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