LITTLE VILLAGE — Hilco Redevelopment Partners is set to start building a massive logistics facility at the old Crawford coal plant Friday — just weeks after Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office said they planned to rescind a construction permit that was “inappropriately approved” by the Department of Buildings.
Hilco plans to begin construction on the 70-acre site at 3501 S. Pulaski Road as early as Friday, the company said in an email. The developer is the one that oversaw the botched demolition that covered Little Village in dust amid a respiratory pandemic and with little to no notice to neighbors.
The warehouse, to be used by Target as a distribution center, will be 1 million square feet. Construction will include using “insulated, load bearing, precast concrete wall panels and a structural steel frame. Vertical construction work will include steel erection, precast wall installation, roof construction and related infrastructure.”
A day after beginning construction, Hilco will host a virtual community meeting at 10 a.m. Saturday to discuss the demolition of the remaining structure at the site. That demolition will start no earlier than July 6, Hilco said in a statement.
Residents can view the virtual meeting on the video conference platform Zoom.
The construction work and demolition at the site have been mired in controversy.
Late last month, the city issued a $40 million building permit to Hilco Redevelopment Partners. The Mayor’s Office initially said the city could not legally withhold approval of permits, but hours later the Mayor’s Office said the Department of Buildings “inappropriately approved a new construction permit” and Lightfoot would push for it to be rescinded.
Earlier this month, the city gave Hilco the green light to demolish a separate structure on the site. The city reported “the developer executed a successful and safe demolition of the structurally unsound turbine structure.”
In two videos of the turbine structure’s demolition, dust can be seen billowing at the site.
City officials have taken steps to ensure Hilco and its subcontractors are held accountable for mistakes made during the work, which is being done adjacent to a residential area. Since the botched implosion, the city has slapped Hilco with $68,000 for city code violations.
Last week, the mayor introduced an ordinance calling on applicants seeking to implode a building to host a community meeting, notify nearby residents and place notifications at the site of the demolition site.
“Robust city oversight for this project will not end here, and we pledge to continue our efforts to closely monitor this project while there is construction activity taking place,” Mimi Simon, a spokeswoman for the Department of Buildings, said in a statement.
“Should the developer not comply with city standards onsite at any time or act in a manner that puts the public health or safety in danger, the city will not hesitate to take immediate action in holding them accountable.”
Some neighbors and activists have criticized Hilco, Lightfoot and Ald. Michael Rodriguez (22nd) for their handling of the demolition.
For two years, neighbors have called on city officials to stop the project, in part because it will bring hundreds of diesel trucks to the area.
The Crawford Coal Plant closed in 2012, a victory for nearby residents who had fought for better air quality. But now they say one polluter is being replaced with another.
The chorus of voices calling for Hilco to abandon the project has only intensified since the botched implosion at the site in April.
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