LITTLE VILLAGE — Despite continued pleas from Little Village residents and activists to postpone work at the old Crawford Coal Plant during a pandemic, city officials have given Hilco the green light to continue demolition.
On Thursday, the Department of Buildings said Hilco Redevelopment Partners will demolish part of the turbine wall attached to a remaining seven-story building at the site. The city says the wall is structurally unsound.
“City Inspectors noted a structural failure in the north wall of the turbine structure, which was held off for demolition because it was tied into the 7-story structure that remains on the site,” Department of Buildings spokeswoman Mimi Simon said in an email.
Simon said the building needed to be “removed as soon as possible imminent danger of an uncontrolled collapse.”
Block Club Chicago has asked the city to provide structural reports for the buildings being demolished but no reports have been provided to date.
The Department of Buildings did not answer additional questions about the demolition’s timeline.
The continued work comes after Hilco’s contractor Heneghan Wrecking completed the demolition of the turbine building last week, which the city also called an imminent threat.
Retiring Building Commissioner Judith Frydland described the turbine removal as a mechanical demolition where a few bricks would be removed at a time and water cannons would be used to minimize dust. But two videos show dust billowing in the air during the recent demolition work.
Activists said the continued dust shows that city officials are not taking the concerns of Little Village residents seriously.
For two years, neighbors have called on city officials to stop Hilco Redevelopment Partners from turning the old coal plant into a 1-million square foot warehouse for Target that would bring hundreds of new diesel trucks to the area.
The chorus of voices calling for Hilco to abandon the project have only intensified since a botched implosion at the site in April covered Little Village in dust.
In the aftermath, Mayor Lori Lightfoot indefinitely stopped work at the site. But earlier this month, city officials gave Hilco and its contractor the green light to demolish the turbine building, saying the building was an imminent danger to the neighborhood.
During a community meeting in May, city officials said another community meeting would be held before work began on the remaining 7-story structure. A date and time for that meeting has not been announced.
Hilco representatives did not immediately answer questions this week.
The Crawford Coal Plant closed in 2012. Hilco plans to build a one-million-square-foot warehouse for Target in its place at the 70-acre site, 3501 S. Pulaski Road.
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