BRIDGEPORT — A new logistics facility on the South Side near the Chicago River could introduce hundreds more cars and industrial work to the area, residents say, creating traffic hazards and environmental concerns.
Prologis, based in San Francisco, is planning the facility at 2500 S. Corbett St. and 2420 S. Halsted St. in Bridgeport. Residents were told hundreds of employees will be based there, according to an email from law firm DLA Piper that was obtained by Block Club.
The facility will be an environmental burden on the area, residents say.
Anna Schibrowsky, the community development leader of the Bridgeport Alliance, said the project will bring diesel, gas and brake pad pollution to the air and river due to an increase in truck traffic.
Schibrowsky said Prologis will install electric vehicle charging stations, but there is no guarantee the company will use the devices.
Prologis representatives did not respond to a request for comment.
Lydia Arroyo, a member of the Southwest Environmental Alliance, said the South Side already is “overburdened” with industrial projects.
“I don’t think we need to add other companies that are going to be adding pollution on top of what we already have, which is going to just going to complicate things more and make things worse off for everybody in the community,” Arroyo said.
Southwest Side residents already vulnerable to environmental pollution due to diesel trucks, “noxious odors,” and “dusty materials,” according to research from the National Resources Defense Council, an environmental non-profit.
Bicyclists also contend the development will make their daily commute much more dangerous.
Trucks will leave the logistics center on Halsted on the north side of the Halsted Orange Line. Roughly 232 “light commercial vehicles” will depart from the facility daily, according to the email from DLA Piper.
About 16 semi-trailers and more than 140 “flex drivers” — people with cars — will deliver to the facility every evening.
Kate Lowe, a resident of Bridgeport who commutes to work on her bike on Halsted, said the proposed facility is a “life-or-death question” for bicyclists.
Chris Kanich said he often bikes on Halsted from his home in Bridgeport to the University of Illinois at Chicago campus. The new industrial traffic will add to the “decent” amount of pedestrian and bicycle traffic around the busy Halsted Orange Line stop.
“Turning trucks is well understood to be one of the most dangerous things to cyclists in the city,” Kanich said. “If you look at most of the recent fatalities — even the ones that are on Halsted but not that far away from here — [they] have to do with a truck turning and not seeing a cyclist.”
Residents also say the facility is not a good use of valuable riverfront property in Bridgeport. Architect Ann Lui said the Eleanor Boathouse in Bridgeport and Ping Tom Park in Chinatown are examples of projects along the river that were built with “buy-in from the community.”
“I think there could be so many possible uses of the site, which could prioritize environmentally friendly and sustainable developments, that prioritize civic space, that prioritize a transit-oriented walkable city that’s human scale,” Lui said. “Those all seem like really important values that I think most people in Bridgeport share.
“It seems important to give space to the planning process, so we can figure out what the community values and wants to see in that space, to give space to those kind of opportunities to maybe come to life.”
Peter Strazzabosco, spokesman for the city’s Department of Planning and Development, said in a statement the developer will make a formal presentation about the project later this week, after which an internal review process to discuss design issues and community concerns will ensue.
A zoning application will be filed Wednesday with City Council. The Chicago Plan Commission will host a public hearing about the project in the late summer or early fall before moving to the council’s Zoning Committee and the full council.
“The city of Chicago is committed to a robust review and approval process that considers the needs of all stakeholders in neighborhoods directly impacted by proposed projects,” Strazzabosco said.
Residents said they expressed their concerns during a community meeting hosted by Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson (11th) last month. Still, residents said they remain frustrated with the lack of solicited community input.
The alderman’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
“It seems like there’s projects and plans that are in the works for a while on the city’s side before residents ever get a chance to hear about them to offer input,” said Charlotte Piwowar, the chair of the Bridgeport Alliance.
“And frequently, the time that we have to hear about projects and offer input is when there’s a zoning change, at which point it’s usually almost too late to really have any kind of meaningful impact.”
Piwowar said the alliance is trying to coordinate with other community organizations to talk about environmental sustainability and how residents can contribute to a “community voice.”
“It’s not that the Bridgeport Alliance is against development in any sense, but more that we believe there should be a lot more opportunity for community input and vision to drive what happens,” Piwowar said.
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