Massive Central Furniture Mart Sign Hung Dangerously Low, Witnesses Say

Photo courtesy of Paul Biasco/Quiote.

WICKER PARK — The neon Central Furniture Mart hung dangerously low to the sidewalk late Tuesday afternoon. No one was injured and the street surrounding the sign was closed to pedestrians and car traffic as contractors eventually hauled the sign away.

Larry Merritt, a Chicago Fire Department spokesman, said that fire workers responded to a call of a “dangerous sign” at 11:52 a.m. Tuesday.

There were no injuries, Merritt said.

Bill McCaffrey, a city spokesman, said, “The Department of Buildings responded [to 1348 N. Milwaukee] due to the report of a dangerous sign. When inspectors arrived, a contractor was already on site and was removing the sign to abate the hazard.”

Located at 1348 N. Milwaukee Ave. , the former Central Furniture Mart has sat empty since the family-owned business closed in 2014 and relocated to Humboldt Park.

Developer Joshua Mintzer bought the building for $3.75 million in July 2014, county records show.

Mintzer declined to comment. McCaffrey said there were no prior violations related to the now removed sign.

“The last sign violation was in 2011, but that was related to different sign on this property. A vinyl sign was erected without a permit,” McCaffrey said.

Candise Cho, owner of neighboring Mildblend Supply Co., said that she has “always been concerned about the safety of pedestrians.”

“I know I find myself taking a deep breath each time I walk under it. I had hoped with new owners, it would have been taken down or better secured,” Cho said.

Cho said she did not call 911, but when she looked outside her store shortly before 12 p.m. when officials were on the scene, the sign was “much lower” than it had been in the past.

“It was very low. It had dropped,” Cho said.

Online city records show that there were 11 building violations issued at the site in an April 2016 building inspection. Most of the violations are related to fixtures, cables and abandoned electrical equipment. None were related to the sign that has since been removed. The building has a second large neon sign that remains hanging.

Firefighters roped off the street around the sign. [Courtesy of Candise Cho]
The sign being removed around 3 p.m. Tuesday. [Candise Cho]

The sign in February 2016: