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Asbestos destruction stalls demolition of Illinois' "Blues Brothers" mall

After many stops and starts, the demolition of an Illinois shopping mall that was featured in the 1979 movie "The Blues Brothers" will reportedly begin by the end of this month, city officials say. The announcement comes more than five years after the Illinois state attorney general sued the city to stop the demolition of the mall because of the high levels of asbestos present throughout the old building.

That asbestos lawsuit was filed in 2005, when Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan sued the city of Harvey over improper asbestos removal at the site of Dixie Square Mall, which has been closed since 1979. As a result of the lawsuit, the demolition of the mall was halted indefinitely.

In 2008, however, the state of Illinois received about $170 in federal disaster funding after Hurricane Ike caused flooding in many parts of the state. Approximately $4 million of those funds were earmarked for the demolition of the Dixie Square Mall, which is reportedly giving the city the money it needs to tear down the mall safely, without exposing any workers or city residents to dangerous asbestos fibers.

According to Ed Paesel, the executive director of the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association, the decision of which company should do the demolition will come down to who is best equipped to handle the asbestos. The goal is to "cure a public health and safety hazard" posed by having asbestos in the building.

The Dixie Square Mall has not been renovated since 1979, when it was given temporary upgrades before being trashed by the characters of Jake and Elwood Blues in the film "The Blues Brothers."

Source: Southtown Star, "Demolition of Harvey's Dixie Square Mall could begin by year's end," Mike Nolan, Nov. 29, 2011

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