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General Iron Closed by City Ahead of Clybourn Corridor PMD Meeting

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Could this be the final nail in the coffin for Clybourn's Planned Manufacturing District?

Earlier this week General Iron Industries Inc. located at 1909 N Clifton Avenue was shuttered by the city of Chicago’s Department of Buildings. According to DNAinfo, the scrap metal operation was cited for no less than 28 code violations, ranging from an unsecured elevator shaft to improper storage of flammable chemicals. While this week represents the first time the General Iron has been shut down, it’s hardly the company’s first brush with angry city officials.

Though General Iron has been in business along the Chicago River’s north branch for more than 100 years, the operation found itself increasingly at odds with neighbors who voiced concerns not only regarding the site's noise but also safety and environmental impact. After an explosion led to an extra-alarm fire in December, local aldermen called for General’s closure and/or relocation.

Code violations notwithstanding, many argue that an active scrapyard next to prime Lincoln Park real estate is an anachronism — especially following the exodus by other nearby heavy industries such as A. Finkl and Sons, Lakin General, and Guttman. Though representatives from General Iron have vowed to correct their manifold deficiencies and reopen, the prospect of a post-industrial north branch may be very close to becoming a reality.

On Tuesday, May 3rd a public meeting to be hosted by Alderman Brian Hopkins (2nd) will discuss transformative plans for the former Finkl Steel site. The redevelopment will likely be achieved by stripping the area of its protected Planned Manufacturing District (PMD) zoning designation. With General Iron still operating as one of the district’s last heavy industrial holdovers, perhaps the timing of the city’s inspection was more than a coincidence?