CHICAGO — In just a few days, the five buildings at the General Iron metal shredding site along the Chicago River will be demolished.
“Should have been done years ago and finally, they’re getting to it, takes a long time,” said Ernie Norrman, who has lived in the neighborhood on and off since the 1970s.
He and other concerned neighbors listened to the demolition plan during a meeting at DePaul University on Friday, hearing directly from the wrecking company handling the work.
“We want this place gone as much as anyone else does,” said Kurt Berger with the Heneghan Wrecking Company. [The] commissioner, [the Chicago Department of Public Health], the aldermen, this place has been a nightmare for this community for a long time.”
The biggest concern – is making sure the work is completed safely.
In July 2020, an implosion of the smokestack at the Crawford power plant left Little Village covered in dust. The city’s buildings and public health departments say that won’t happen with General Iron. No explosives are being used and a dust mitigation plan is in place. Inspectors from both departments will also be on site every day.
“I think they’ve probably got it under control as much as they can,” Norrman said.
The work is scheduled to take four to six weeks once it begins, although winter weather could delay the project.
“We succeeded today, this is the final chapter in General Iron’s history and now we can start talking about what the next chapter is for this 18-acre piece of land on the river,” said Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd Ward).
As for what that looks like, many neighbors say they want the property to become a public green space. General Iron still owns the land and Hopkins thinks it would likely cost the city $200 million to buy and develop the property, though he states that there’s casual interest from other buyers.