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From Meat Packing to Vertical Farming in Back-of-the-Yards

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One of Chicago's most interesting real estate deals of the past year wasn't a downtown development site, and it had nothing to do with the residential market — it was a former meatpacking facility in Back-of-the-Yards. A developer named John Edel (whose other recent development is this commercial building in Bridgeport) acquired a four-story building in July with plans to convert it into a vertical farm using aquaponics (hydroponics + fish) grow beds indoors and a greenhouse on the roof. In addition to the farm, Edel's vision for the 93,500-square-foot building calls for a brewery (Three Floyd's Brewery has reportedly expressed interest), and some manufacturing and office space. According to a Chicago Reader article from August, Edel ultimately wants the building to be zero net energy, meaning that he'll harness energy from one process to power another.

The whole project sounds pretty ambitious, but Edel doesn't seem like one to back down from a challenge. After all, he rescued his other building from wild dogs and a gang of "violent, racist bikers," according to the Reader. Click "play" on the four-month-old video produced by Ben Kolak to see what Edel & company have been up to.

· Official webiste: The Plant [Plant Chicago]
· The Four-Story Farm [Chicago Reader]