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If Developers Want To Bring Housing To Huge Tempel Steel Campus, Affordable Options Must Be Included, Alderman Says

The massive property is in an industrial stretch of Bowmanville just south of Rosehill Cemetery and east of Half Acre's Balmoral Tap Room.

Earlier this month Tempel Steel announced it was putting its home of 75 years at 5500 N. Wolcott Ave. on the market in order to move to a modern automated new plant.
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BOWMANVILLE — Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th) says potential developers looking to buy Tempel Steel Co.’s sprawling, 21-acre Chicago campus to build homes should expect a conversation about affordable housing. 

Earlier this month, the Tribune reported Tempel Steel was putting its home of 75 years at 5500 N. Wolcott Ave. on the market in order to move to a more modern, automated new plant. 

While no offer has been put on the property yet, Vasquez said his office has spoken to the city’s Department of Planning and Development to discuss possibilities for the property, which currently has a manufacturing zone designation.

Colliers International brokers Vern Schultz and Mike Senner are marketing the property and told the Tribune the campus is a “blank slate” which could include apartments, condos, homes, offices — anything, really.

But Vasquez knows the sale will attract real estate developers.

“When it comes to housing, which is obviously in the front a lot of folks’ mind, we want to make sure that there is an aggressive affordable housing component to even entertain that conversation,” Vasquez said. 

The massive property is in an industrial stretch of Bowmanville just south of Rosehill Cemetery, 5800 N. Ravenswood Ave., and just east of Half Acre Beer Co. Balmoral Tap Room & Garden, 2050 W. Balmoral Ave.

“The cost of remediation would be high for the land that is there. I assume if somebody would want to build housing there it would be luxury housing,” Vasquez said. “But if there’s an increase in density that would only be high-end, luxury stuff, I would not be in support of it.”

Credit: google
Ariel view of the Tempel Steel property at 5500 N. Wolcott Ave.

Vasquez said he hasn’t been presented with plans from potential buyers yet, but thinks it would make sense for it to remain some kind of campus. 

“It’s obviously already zoned for that. That might actually be the most successful endeavor there, barring somebody figures out how to do affordable housing at that property in a way that makes sense,” he said.

He said the property presents some large challenges for potential developers. It’s not really close to public transportation, which could pose a challenge for retailers.

Tempel Steel reached out to Vasquez to let him know about their plans in advance, the alderman said. 

“When we heard about the sale I thought on one hand this is amazing, but on the other this is kind of daunting because it’s such a large property,” Vasquez said. “We have to make sure that we really think this through because you don’t get an opportunity in the ward like that often, if at all. It’s something I don’t take lightly.”

Vasquez said any potential zoning changes would be brought before residents of the 40th Ward so the community can weigh in on the future of the property.

“I cannot stress this enough. We are committed to hearing from the community and to bringing transparency to this process,” Vasquez said.

The alderman invited anyone with questions or comments regarding the future of the property to contact his office at or 773-654-1867.

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