CHICAGO — A proposal to bring an Amazon distribution center to Bridgeport advanced out of a key City Council committee Tuesday, clearing the path for final approval later this month.
After narrowly securing Chicago Plan Commission approval last month in a rare close vote, the project sailed through the Committee on Zoning without opposition.
The logistics facility, at 2424 S. Halsted St. along the South Branch of the Chicago River, would expand Amazon’s footprint near the city’s urban core as logistics companies seek to shorten delivery times to online shoppers. The corporate giant operates a facility on Goose Island and recently opened two more facilities in Pullman and Gage Park.
California-based developer Prologis is spearheading the construction of the 23-acre center between Halsted Street and Senour Avenue in the Pilsen Industrial Corridor.
The plan calls for 487 parking spaces and nearly 1,900 feet of publicly accessible riverwalk with seating areas and “floating wetlands” in the river to be developed.
But some neighbors, civic nonprofits and environmental justice activists have opposed the Bridgeport plan, arguing the facility would be a bad fit for the neighborhood and would bring large delivery trucks — and the resulting pollution — to the neighborhood, furthering the environmental degradation of the city’s Southwest side.
In November, the project survived a tense hearing at the Chicago Plan Commission, winning approval in a 8-6 vote. At the meeting, chairwoman Teresa Cordova sparred with Planning Commissioner Maurice Cox over how the city should regulate the placement of logistics facilities in Chicago, noting most facilities are landing on the South and West sides.
After Cox said Chicagoans must learn to accept the distribution centers as an offshoot of the growth in e-commerce, Cordova called for a halt to reviewing applications for large logistics facilities until Cox’s department created a citywide framework for where they can locate.
Following the vote in favor of the project at Plan Commission, Cordova noted the project was largely approved by city officials who hold a seat on the commission, while each person who voted against the plan worked outside government.
At the zoning meeting Tuesday, leaders from across the city praised the project and clamored for more logistics facilities, touting the jobs they provide.
Local Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson (11th), who supports the project, said the distribution facility will be the fourth to open in his ward in less than two years.
“I think this development, the way it’s going to be designed, the way it’s going to be built, will compliment the community,” he said.
Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), who represents the Pullman neighborhood where he recently joined Mayor Lori Lightfoot in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for an Amazon facility, congratulated Daley Thompson on nabbing “a wonderful project.”
“This is a great project that’s going to bring some more badly needed jobs to the South Side,” he said.
Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th), who also sits on the Plan Commission, said the project was a “big win” for keeping jobs in the community and expressed hope a logistics facility would open in his ward that stretches from parts of Gold Coast to the West Side.
Several neighborhood and citywide groups have urged the city to block the project, including the Metropolitan Planning Council, Bridgeport Alliance, Chicago Asian Americans for Environmental Justice, Active Transportation Alliance and the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization.
Ahead of the Plan Commission vote, they submitted a letter of opposition, arguing “in addition to air pollution and quality of life impacts, logistics facilities present potentially fatal traffic safety risks, especially for pedestrians and bicyclists.”
Cox said the city will begin a study of Southwest Side industrial zoning early next year that will take approximately two years to complete.
But in the meantime, “we cannot put a moratorium on development in these areas,” he said.
The plan will be up for a vote by the full City Council during its Dec. 16 meeting.
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