POTENTIAL WIN: Closed Mars Candy Factory To Be Repurposed for Community Use

“As the Mars chocolate factory prepares to close in 2024, its owners are working with Galewood residents to figure out how the community can take advantage of the nearly century-old building.

“Hundreds of residents have shared their ideas through surveys and community meetings about how the building should be used once the factory closes. Several potential uses for the historic building have picked up support, such as transforming it into a library, a community center or a nature sanctuary.

“Mars Wrigley announced in January that the company will close the original factory at 2019 N. Oak Park Ave. at some point in 2024. The factory produces candy like Snickers, M&Ms, Milky Way bars, Twix and Skittles.

“The factory was built in 1928 with a Spanish Renaissance architecture style and a dramatic façade that makes it an important part of the look and feel of Galewood. A recently formed neighborhood association, Galewood Neighbors, started organizing to preserve the building once the closure was announced since ‘the factory is an icon and it will be sorely missed,’ said Steve Green, a member of the group.

“‘When this came up, we were panicked because there was so much concern about what was going to happen. We didn’t want to see another vacant building … that just sits there for decades,’ Green said.

“Mars Wrigley agreed to work with neighbors to identify a plan for what to do with the building and ‘partner with the surrounding community on a future vision for the site,’ a spokesperson for Mars said in a statement. ‘We plan on donating the land for use of the community and leveraging the expertise of community partners as we move forward,’ the Mars spokesperson said.

Many residents want to turn the original building into a historic landmark so the factory’s history in Galewood can be preserved. The original building, which includes the iconic façade, is just a small part of the sprawling factory campus. That portion of the building should be preserved and could then be “filled with a couple cultural institutions,” said Thomas Drebenstedt, a nearby resident.

“A lot of those ideas are appealing to me. But what I would really like to see is the building landmarked,” Drebenstedt said. “We need to retain at least the original part of the building.” (Sabino, Block Club Chicago, 4/20/22)

Read the full story at Block Club Chicago

Mars Chocolate Factory Closure Could Mean A New Library, Gym Or Nature Center For West Side Neighborhood; Mars Wrigley plans to donate the historic factory to the community when it closes the facility in 2024. Residents are working with the company to plan for how the building will be used, Pascal Sabino, Block Club Chicago, 4/20/22

Mars Wrigley closing nearly century-old chocolate plant on Chicago’s West Side, Robert Channick, Chicago Tribune, 1/25/22

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