A Southwest Side economic development organization, joined by seven other groups, asked Gov. JB Pritzker on Monday to delay the sale of the Damen Silos along the Chicago River to allow for public meetings before determining the fate of the 23 acres of industrial land.
Pritzker’s administration announced a plan last month to sell the property to the owner of an asphalt plant in McKinley Park that has been the target of numerous odor and nuisance complaints from its neighbors.
MAT Asphalt co-owner Michael Tadin Jr. and his family were the high bidders for the long-dormant silos near 29th and Damen, offering $6.5 million.
With seven industrial corridors, the Southwest Side has been at the center of a number of fights between residents and businesses over polluting industry.
“Failure to engage community stakeholders is a social and environmental justice issue for communities like ours, who face historical inequities and will be directly impacted by development on this site for generations to come,” Kate Eakin, president of McKinley Park Development Council, wrote in a letter.
The letter was co-signed by Friends of the Parks, Active Transportation Alliance, Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) and several community organizations, including Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, Neighbors for Environmental Justice and Southwest Environmental Alliance.
“We deserve to have a voice,” Eakin said in an interview. “We all have to live with this.”
Pritzker has said that holding on to the property costs taxpayers money, and he wants to close the deal this month.
The state “is required to sell property to the highest bidder to get the best deal for taxpayers,” a statement from Pritzker’s Department of Central Management Services said.
The grain silos, which have been idle for decades, have been owned by the state for more than 90 years and were featured in the 2014 movie “Transformers: Age of Extinction.”
Tadin, who hasn’t announced details about his plans for the property, has said he’s done much for the riverfront, including a housing development.
“I’ve been improving the riverfront for over 10 years,” he said in a recent interview.
Brett Chase’s reporting on the environment and public health is made possible by a grant from The Chicago Community Trust.