. Chicago Sun-Times Editorial: All doesn’t have to be lost if the historic Damen Silos are demolished (Chicago 7 2023)

“A city’s stock rises and falls on its ability to create and maintain special places for residents and tourists.

“The long-vacant Damen Silos could have been one of the places. Located near the Stevenson Expressway in the McKinley Park neighborhood, the three 120-year-old silos should be on their way to being converted into a one-of-a-kind recreational or cultural spot surrounded by new park space right along the South Branch of the Chicago River.

“Instead, they’re likely to be demolished by owner Michael Tadin Jr., who bought the site from the state in 2022 for $6.5 million.

“The silos’ demolition would represent a blown chance for the city and state to have turned the old industrial site into something exciting.

“As Millennium Park, the downtown Riverwalk, and countless other places across Chicago show us, unique places add to the city’s vitality. We need more of them. But there could still be a way to create something novel on the Damen Silos site.

“Community members and preservationists have been fighting for months to prevent the grain silos at 29th Street and Damen Avenue from being razed.

“Tadin owns an asphalt plant in McKinley Park and has not announced what he wants to do with the Damen Silos property, other than saying he won’t put an asphalt plant there.

“But neighbors at a public U.S. Army Corps of Engineers meeting that was held last week to discuss the site were skeptical. Ald. Julia Ramirez (12th) said she’ll attempt to change the site’s zoning to make it tougher to build a plant there.

“Meanwhile, Tadin wants the structures demolished.

“But it’s awful that things were allowed to get bad enough that demolition has become an option. Especially when there are scores of examples around the country and planet of silos being reused and turned into real assets.

“McKinley Park neighbors and city officials should have been given the chance to work with the state and figure out the Damen Silos future before the site was sold.

“Given where things are, the best bet for the city and the future of the Chicago River is to convert the 23-acre site into a park with river access.

“Still, one can’t help but lament what might have been. But by working with the community, Tadin, the state and the city hopefully can still come up with a winning solution.” (Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board, 2/6/24)

Read the full editorial at Chicago Sun-Times

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