LOSS: Crawford Station’s Turbine Hall Facade Demolished (Chicago 7 2014 & 2019)

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Portion of Turbine Hall at Crawford Power Station Still Standing on April 16, 2020. Photo Credit: Ward Miller

Portion of Turbine Hall at Crawford Power Station Still Standing on April 16, 2020. Photo Credit: Ward Miller

“Companies that win multimillion-dollar tax incentives to bring industrial jobs to Chicago could be stripped of those benefits if they “betray the public’s trust” under a plan set to be considered Wednesday by the Chicago City Council.

“The non-binding resolution cleared the City Council’s Committee on Economic, Capital and Technological Development on Friday after Ald. Mike Rodriguez (22nd Ward) said the city needed a way to ‘clawback’ incentives from firms that hurt Chicago communities.

“Rodriguez was spurred to act after Hilco Global Partners demolished the smokestack at the former Crawford Power Plant, sending a plume of dust over six blocks of homes in Little Village.

“Before Rodriguez was elected in 2019, the City Council agreed to grant Hilco a $19.7 million property tax break over the next 12 years after it announced plans to tear down the red-brick power plant, built in 1924 and shuttered in 2012, and replace it with a warehouse.” (Cherone, 6/13/20)

Crawford Power Station was a Preservation Chicago Most Endangered in 2014 and 2019. When Crawford Station was built in 1926, it was considered an engineering wonder of the world. It was designed by one of Chicago’s most respected architectural firms Graham, Anderson, Probst and White, who also designed Chicago Union Station, Soldier Field, Field Museum, Merchandise Mart, Shedd Aquarium and Chicago’s Main Post Office.

The increased pollution from hundreds of idling diesel trucks at the proposed 1-million-square-foot truck distribution facility will have a powerfully negative health impact on the community, and it should not be allowed to move forward.

The $19.7 million of public funds allocated to the redevelopment of the Crawford site should be reallocated to a responsible, community-oriented developer. At the very least, Crawford’s Turbine Hall facade should have been converted to a use that met the needs of the community.

In 2019, Hilco acquired the Fisk Generating Station at 1111 West Cermak, another significant historic power station in the Pilsen community. Our city’s history should not be erased in the name of one company’s profits.

Fisk Power Station in Pilsen was a Preservation Chicago Most Endangered in 2014. Immediate steps must be taken to prevent Hilco from demolishing Fisk Power Station.

In London, a once shuttered coal-fired plant built in 1947 was adaptively reused and is now the celebrated Tate Modern. This river-front art museum has become the third most visited attraction in the UK with 5.8 million visitors in 2016. That building faced repeated threats of demolition for nearly 20 years prior to its reuse in 2000. In Savannah, Georgia, the former Georgia Power Plant located on the Savannah River is being turned into a 670,000-square-foot, mixed-used development by Marriott.

Additional Reading

Aldermen Endorse Effort to Revoke Tax Incentives After Botched Smokestack Demolition

Heather Cherone, WTTW Chicago, 6/13/20

As Little Village Demolition Restarts, Dust Seen Billowing At Hilco Site In New Video

After a dust cloud descended on Little Village, city officials said a few bricks would be removed at a time when demolition resumed. But new video shows large parts of the building being torn out, Mauricio Peña, Block Club Chicago, 6/15/20 

Building at Former Crawford Power Plant to be Demolished June 5, Heather Cherone, WTTW Chicago, 5/29/20

Residents Question Hilco’s Commitment to Neighborhood Ahead of Demolition, Kristen Thometz WTTW Chicago, 5/24/20

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