A plan to build a 1 million-square-foot distribution center at the site of Little Village’s Crawford Generating Station faced organized opposition from groups of community members and environmental advocates at Thursday’s meeting of the Chicago Plan Commission. Opponents argued that replacing the coal-fired plant with a sprawling warehouse featuring 188 loading berths for diesel semi-trucks would simply swap a former source of dangerous air pollution for a new one.
Located near the intersection of Pulaski Road and the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, the 1926 Graham, Anderson, Probst and White-designed Crawford plant was decommissioned in 2012 after being linked to asthma attacks, emergency room visits, and premature deaths. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel touted the closure as an accomplishment in a televised 2014 campaign commercial.
On Thursday morning, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization hosted a press conference on the second floor of Chicago’s City Hall prior to the start of the Plan Commission meeting. The group called on the commissioners to delay their vote on the proposal from Northbrook-based Hilco Redevelopment Partners.
Activists had called the developer to sign a Community Benefits Agreement ensuring that the project would not negatively impact the health of nearby residents. While the development is expected to create 178 permanent positions, opponents also wanted written guarantees that the Hilco complex would pay a living wage, provide unionized jobs, and employment opportunities for undocumented area residents.
Despite the pushback from the community, the Chicago Plan Commission voted in favor of the warehouse development. The project will next head before the city’s Zoning Committee and finally full Chicago City Council for final approval.
Hilco hopes to complete the Little Village facility, dubbed Exchange 55, in early 2020. The development will include several green touches including a new bike path, infrastructure to support electric vehicles and rooftop solar panels, says the Chicago Tribune. The developer will also need to complete extensive environmental remediation at the former power plant site.
We DEMAND a #JustTransition for the Crawford Coal Power Plant. 72 acres is enough space for #UrbanAgriculture, #JobTraining #RenewableEnergy #HellNoHilco ! JOIN US TOMORROW AT THE PLAN COMISSION HEARING TO SAY NO TO HILCO! pic.twitter.com/7pp3rbDZEe— LVEJO (@LVEJO) September 12, 2018
Little Village community leaders don't want temporary low-paid jobs or toxic air pollution - they want job training, environmental protections, and clean energy. They are telling the City plan commission: Vote No to Hilco #HellNoHilco #LittleVillage #EquitableDevelopment pic.twitter.com/z4Gg1av0xL— CLC for Civil Rights (@ChgoCivilRights) September 13, 2018
We stood with @LVEJO and other community groups in City Hall today calling for the City of Chicago Plan Commission to halt the polluting #diesel development of the Hilco logistics facility. Don't endanger the environment and health of #LittleVillage residents again! pic.twitter.com/fF9jDc6gER— Resp Health Assoc (@RespHealth) September 13, 2018
#EnvironmentalJustice groups did not fight #LittleVillage's dirty coal plant for a decade only to see #Crawford converted into an air quality menace of diesel exhaust. @LVEJO is calling for #JustTransition at Planning Commission meeting. pic.twitter.com/4yHKdUKnWN— frank bergh (@frankbergh) September 13, 2018
Commission OKs 1 million-square-foot warehouse and distribution facility on Pulaski in #LittleVillage. The $100 million project will create 178 permanent jobs, 350 construction jobs, improve pedestrian and vehicle access on Pulaski and preserve a setback for a potential riverwalk pic.twitter.com/NWwdUZ7Ltn— Chicago DPD (@ChicagoDPD) September 13, 2018
The Little Village logistics center wasn’t the only project to get the nod from the Chicago Plan Commission on Thursday. The group also approved Bucktown’s 366-unit Triangle Square development, an 11-story addition to the Rush University Medical Center, a 106-unit apartment complex next to the 606 Trail, an amendment allowing a residential project in Galewood to add 39 units, and a controversial 75-unit, mixed-income rental project slated for Chicago’s Jefferson Park neighborhood.
Commission OKs 3-building plan at Elston and Webster. The $200M project has a 7-story building with 300 rental units, a 7-story building with 66 condos, and a 2-story commercial building. Plan includes 9 affordable units on site and a $3.6M payment to the affordable housing fund. pic.twitter.com/I6msjhYz1J— Chicago DPD (@ChicagoDPD) September 13, 2018
Commission approves new 11-story @RushMedical building east of the existing “butterfly” building in the Illinois Medical District. It will include ground floor retail and a six-story parking garage. The plan will create 295 construction jobs and 250 permanent jobs. pic.twitter.com/Xk18AIRK2j— Chicago DPD (@ChicagoDPD) September 13, 2018
Commission approves a six-story, 106-unit plan at 1750 N. Western Ave. The developer of the $45 million project will offer 16 affordable units on site per the #AROpilot. The second floor of the building will provide direct access to @The606Chicago and offer public restrooms. pic.twitter.com/han9AvraGi— Chicago DPD (@ChicagoDPD) September 13, 2018
Commission approves updated plan for 2102 N. Natchez to allow for an additional 39 residential units, raising the total to 195 units. pic.twitter.com/hTzXQPoXf0— Chicago DPD (@ChicagoDPD) September 13, 2018
Plan Commission approves amended $27 million plan from @FullCircle310 at 5150 N. Northwest Highway to allow for a seven-story, 75-unit building with first-floor retail in #JeffersonPark. Sixty of the units will be rented at affordable rates, with 15 units set aside for veterans. pic.twitter.com/SmS0utM1gL— Chicago DPD (@ChicagoDPD) September 13, 2018
- Developer seeks city approval to replace Crawford power plant in Little Village with massive distribution center [Chicago Tribune]
- Controversial Jefferson Park development among projects headed to September’s Plan Commission meeting [Curbed Chicago]
- Chicago Plan Commission September agenda [City of Chicago]