Despite protests, Damen Silos sold by state to Michael Tadin Jr.

Community groups, preservationists and environmentalists had asked Gov. J.B. Pritzker to halt the sale and requested that the city intervene.

SHARE Despite protests, Damen Silos sold by state to Michael Tadin Jr.
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

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration sold the Damen Silos along the Chicago River near Damen Avenue and 29th Street last week.

Sun-Times file

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration sold the Damen Silos and 23 acres of riverfront industrial land last week despite last-minute efforts by groups trying to delay the sale and allow public input.

Michael Tadin Jr. and his family were announced last month as the high bidder, offering $6.5 million, for the property near 29th Street and Damen Avenue along the Chicago River.

Tadin is a longtime city contractor and co-owner of MAT Asphalt in McKinley Park, an operation that has drawn hundreds of complaints from residents. He and his family operate several other businesses, including construction and waste-hauling operations.

After Tadin was announced as the high bidder, Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th), community and environmental groups and preservationists appealed to the governor to reconsider the sale and then asked Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration to intervene and take time to seek community feedback for new uses of the area.

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In a letter to Chicago Planning and Development Commissioner Maurice Cox, the McKinley Park Development Council asked that the city consider acquiring the property from the state “so that area residents can have a say in a major change to our neighborhoods.”

That letter, dated Dec. 12, was re-sent to Cox last week by Sigcho-Lopez’s office. The alderperson said in an interview that residents should have a say as to how that land, which is in an area zoned for manufacturing, should be redeveloped.

“It merits a conversation,” Sigcho-Lopez said. “There are multiple voices asking that things be slowed down.”

City Hall officials declined to comment.

Preservationists have suggested the massive structures, featured in the 2014 movie “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” could be saved and reused for climbing, public art or other uses.

Tadin said he plans to tear down the silos, which he calls a safety hazard, and clean up the property next year. He said he’s not considering heavy manufacturing for the industrial site but hasn’t determined what will be built.

“There’s no set plan,” Tadin said Tuesday.

Gerald Adelmann, chief executive of the land conservation group Openlands, said he encouraged Lightfoot advisers to step in and try to slow the sale.

Tadin will have to seek approval from the city before redeveloping the land, but Adelmann said residents could’ve had an early say as to how the land will be used.

“Most importantly, the community needs to have a voice,” Adelmann said. “The city could’ve intervened, but I think timing was an issue.”

He’s critical of the state’s sale process.

“The disposition process is very flawed — simply to sell a parcel without any understanding of how it will be used,” Adelmann said.

The silos have been idle for decades and owned by the state for more than 90 years.

The Pritzker administration said it was required by law to sell the property to the highest bidder so it can get the best deal for taxpayers. The sale was completed on Dec. 20.

The other bidders included an affiliate of Blue Star Properties, which recently redeveloped the former Morton Salt warehouse on North Elston Avenue and created The Salt Shed concert venue. Blue Star was the lowest bidder, however, offering about $3 million less than Tadin.

Produce distributor Anthony Marano Co., which has operations near the silos, was the second-highest bidder at $6.1 million. Real estate investor Timber Hill Group was the other bidder, offering $4.1 million.

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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