Activists speak out about Target distribution center opening in Little Village

The 1 million-square-foot facility is set to open Tuesday.

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Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

With heavy trucks rumbling by almost on cue, a small group of Little Village activists said there will be nothing to cheer about Tuesday when Target’s distribution center officially opens — because, they say, it will bring unacceptable levels of pollution and inadequate jobs.

“This is not the development that our community has wanted. We have the second worst air quality in the state of Illinois. More warehouses and diesel trucks is not what our community needs,” said Kimberly Wasserman, executive director of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization.

Wasserman said activists plan to be out Tuesday for the ribbon cutting “chanting and causing a ruckus.”

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The 1 million-square-foot facility just north of Little Village is expected to provide about 2,000 full- and part-time jobs, with a starting hourly wage of $18, according to Target. The facility is expected to service about 90 Target stores in and around Chicago.

“The facility was designed for sustainability and safety — which will be the largest LEED-certified building in the state — and the development included major improvements to the surrounding area, including native landscaping, modified intersections and redesigned street routes to limit traffic in the neighborhood,” Target said in a statement. “We developed strong relationships with local organizations to keep the Little Village community at the center of what we do.”

The activists were angered last year after the demolition of a 400-foot-tall smokestack on the site of the future Target facility sent dust and dirt billowing across Little Village.

Activists cited the debacle as another case of the city ignoring the environmental concerns of the Southwest Side community and reiterated worries that the distribution center will bring hundreds of diesel-fueled trucks to the area, further contaminating the neighborhood.

The group wants Target to break the lease with the developer, Hilco Redevelopment Partners, and donate the site to the city for the development of a market, commercial kitchens and a solar workforce training site.

On Monday, a group of about a dozen protesters held signs that read: “Hell No to Hilco” and “Don’t Target Us.”

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