Damen Silos, featured in ‘Transformers’ movie, set to be sold by state

The owner of a controversial McKinley Park asphalt plant is the winning bidder for the 23-acre Southwest Side property, offering $6.5 million.

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Está planeado que los Damen Silos a lo largo del Río Chicago sean derribados. El nuevo propietario necesitará la aprobación del gobierno federal y de la Municipalidad. | Archivos Sun-Times

The state has a potential buyer for the Damen Silos along the Chicago River on Damen Avenue near 29th Street.

Sun-Times file

The long-dormant Damen Silos, a Southwest Side fixture for more than a century, is set to be sold by the state for more than $6.5 million to an asphalt plant owner who’s been the target of numerous pollution claims by some McKinley Park residents.

Michael Tadin Jr. and his family, who operate multiple businesses under the name MAT, bid just over twice the minimum asking price for the more than 23-acre property near 29th Street and Damen Avenue along the Chicago River. 

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration opened the bidding in August. Now the state will negotiate exclusively with Tadin in hopes of closing the sale by the end of the year.

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The grain silos, owned by the state for more than 90 years, were featured in the 2014 Hollywood movie “Transformers: Age of Extinction.” Idle for decades, the structure has also been a popular site for graffiti artists.

Tadin said he hopes to consolidate a home base for his various businesses, which include waste hauling and construction. Tadin said he also committed to build the charging infrastructure to support converting his businesses’ more than 100-vehicle fleet from diesel fuel to electric. 

“It’s a nice site,” Tadin said in an interview. “It’s a good place to call home.”

The pending deal for the silos follows Pritzker’s sale of the Thompson Center state office building downtown to Google for $105 million. Both transactions are part of a strategy to shed real estate and save money. The Pritzker administration claims the sale of the silos property will save taxpayers more than $325,000 a year in operating costs.

The site was sold “as is” and Tadin will be responsible for the environmental cleanup. He estimated the environmental work and demolition will take several years to complete. 

“There’s a lot of work for this to be shovel-ready,” Tadin said.

Tadin is a city contractor who sought a vast majority of $500 million in asphalt work earlier this year with low bids. But that bidding process was upended when city officials decided to reject all offers and rebid the contracts requiring pollution control promises in place. That followed years of residents’ complaints about odor and nuisance around Tadin’s asphalt plant at 2055 W. Pershing Road. 

Tadin has been at odds with some neighbors who were outraged when he opened his MAT Asphalt plant directly across from McKinley Park on Pershing in 2018. Tadin has said complaints about smells from his plant are overblown and that his site operates cleaner than other asphalt makers.

Tadin’s father, Michael Tadin Sr., was a longtime city contractor and friend of former Mayor Richard M. Daley. The elder Tadin was also a central figure in the Hired Truck scandal that was exposed by a Sun-Times investigation in 2004. He was never charged with any wrongdoing.

Formerly owned by a railroad, the Damen Silos property has been owned by the state since 1928. The silos haven’t operated for decades, and the property was previously used to mix construction materials for state highways.

In 2005, the state’s Transportation Department transferred the property to Central Management Services so the land could be sold. 

Brett Chase’s reporting on the environment and public health is made possible by a grant from The Chicago Community Trust.

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