A senior leader of the new Target distribution facility that opened inside the controversial Hilco warehouse in Little Village said Tuesday they are making the site greener and have a desire to foster a better relationship with residents.
Allen Brown, the senior distribution director of the Target Little Village Supply Chain Facility at 3501 S. Pulaski Road, said they’ve considered the concerns voiced by residents about the facility that include the quality of the jobs, who is being hired for those jobs and, more importantly, the negative environmental impacts scores of semi-trucks traveling in and out of the facility will have on the neighborhood’s air quality.
Edith Tovar, organizer with the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, said Target saying they wanted to build relations with the community somewhat fell flat considering the virtual meeting Tuesday felt more like a rehearsed presentation than a community meeting. Viewers were barred from speaking during the Q&A section and were regulated to a messaging feature that only Target officials could see.
Tovar said she did appreciate “that they had a Q&A portion but I’m sure a lot of us got off” the meeting with more questions.
Brown said Target is already making several improvements to the site that include planting 650 new trees, 430 new shrubs, creating an adjacent bike path for employees to travel safely and working with the Chicago Transit Authority to provide bus routes to and from the facility. Taxpayers didn’t pay for any of these improvements that were funded by Target, he added.
“The building was designed for LEED certification, including a rooftop solar array. It will be the largest LEED certified building in Chicago when construction is completed,” Brown said. “We understand that truck traffic is a concern for the community and because of that all semi-truck traffic will be directed toward I-55 and away from residential streets. Target will also build a state-of-the-art trailer fleet yard.”
Target is also committed to performing an “air quality impact study, developing a no-idling plan” and it believes it can ultimately reduce truck traffic on Pulaski Avenue by 20%.
Brown said the facility currently has more than 700 employees with the goal of hiring a total of 2,000 people by the end of the year that include managers and warehouse workers. Wages vary by role, Brown said, but starting pay is $18 per hour.
Brown said about 16% of those employees live in Little Village and 28% are from the surrounding Zip codes — Target employs about 900 Little Village residents citywide. He wouldn’t say if he was open to employees of the warehouse unionizing.
Still, Tovar said, Target failed to answer many of their questions.
“There was also no information given to get in contact with a representative to see if more meetings will be scheduled,” Tovar said. “Not much clarity in the hiring process, mentioned their ‘new state-of-the-art’ trailer fleet but gave no information on how many trailers, number of trucks per day and no info on air monitoring efforts.”