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Wicker Park, Bucktown, West Town

Salt Dome — No, It’s Not A Giant Golf Ball — Nears Completion On Grand Avenue In Ukrainian Village

The bulbous white structure will be able to store up to 60,000 tons of salt. Residents want the surrounding streetscape fixed up.

The salt dome near Grand Avenue and Rockwell Street in West Town has been the source of jokes for its bulbous shape.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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UKRAINIAN VILLAGE — A dome to protect a city-owned salt storage and distribution site is on track for completion by the end of September. 

Known as the Grand Avenue Salt Dome Replacement Facility, the structure was commissioned by the city earlier this year to cover a previously exposed pile of salt used by workers during icy conditions. The project is “on time,” with completion expected for Sept. 30, said Bryant Payne, communications director for the Public Building Commission of Chicago, which is overseeing the project.

The bulbous white structure at 2555 W. Grand Ave. looms over Smith Park across the street and is visible from blocks away.

Since construction began in April, the dome has been the subject of neighborhood intrigue and jokes, with some calling it a “giant golf ball.”

At a community meeting for the project in January, neighbors were generally supportive of the dome but pressed city officials to spend money to maintain the streetscape and vegetation along Grand Avenue.

This week, portions of a stone wall along the site’s sidewalk were crumbling, and trash was visible in bushes. 

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Vegetation along Grand Avenue near Rockwell Street in Ukrainian Village on Aug. 24, 2021.

“Here we are across the street from a beautiful park. We raise many dollars every year to support the beautification of the park,” said David Ramos, president of the Smith Park Advisory Council. “Then, of course, when you look on the south side of the street, you see trash and debris that are just laying around.

“We understand the need of [the dome] and for it, but, most importantly, we also want to see a little beautification of it.” 

The Public Building Commission said upgrades to the site’s exterior are in the works, but it couldn’t provide specifics on what they will include. “Site improvements” will take place next year and be done by June 30, Payne said.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
The salt dome near Grand Avenue and Rockwell Street in Ukrainian Village on Aug. 24, 2021.

Once completed, the dome will be able to store up to 60,000 tons of salt, according to city plans.

Payne says he expects the salt will be returned to the site shortly after the dome’s completion in September, ahead of winter.

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