Damen Silos demolition to get public meeting

Michael Tadin Jr. and his family bought the silos from the state for $6.5 million in December.

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The owner of the Damen Silos, located along the Chicago River, wants to tear them down.

The owner of the Damen Silos along the Chicago River has sought permission from the city to tear them down.

Mark Capapas/Sun-Times file

Residents will be able to weigh in during a public meeting on the planned demolition of the historic Damen Silos on the Southwest Side.

No date has been set but city officials say they expect to decide on the meeting soon.

The new owner of the massive grain silos has applied for city approval to demolish the more than century-old structures and redevelop the riverfront land near 29th Street and Damen Avenue.

Chicago businessman Michael Tadin Jr. and his family bought the silos from the state for $6.5 million in December. Tadin has said he will redevelop the 23 acres of industrial land, though he hasn’t provided specifics. Tadin is also co-owner of MAT Asphalt on West Pershing across from McKinley Park.

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Tadin’s contractor, Heneghan Wrecking, began the application process early this year.

Under city rules for “environmentally complex demolitions,” a series of steps are taken to assess potential health risks. The beefed-up process was put in place after a badly botched implosion of an almost 400-foot chimney at the old Crawford coal power plant in Little Village that left the community covered in dust in 2020.

“As an environmentally complex demolition, no demolition permit applications will be approved until a community meeting takes place,” the city’s public health department said in a statement to the Sun-Times. “We are working with community partners and local elected officials to plan for a meeting likely to be held in the coming weeks.”

Late last year, neighborhood, environmental and preservationist groups all appealed to Gov. J.B. Pritzker to reconsider the sale of the property to Tadin, saying residents should be able to provide feedback for new uses for the silos and the surrounding property.

Some preservationists said the structures, featured in the 2014 movie “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” can be repurposed for public art, climbing or as part of a park or concert venue.

An affiliate of Blue Star Properties, which redeveloped the former Morton Salt warehouse into the Salt Shed concert venue on North Elston Avenue, was one of the losing bidders for the silos.

The Damen Silos were once owned by a railroad but had been the property of the state since 1928. They have not operated for decades.

In 2005, Illinois’ transportation department transferred the property to another state agency for the purpose of selling the silos and land.

MAT Asphalt is a city contractor, and the plant has been the target of hundreds of resident complaints since opening in 2018. Under new city rules, asphalt plants will add more pollution protection. MAT has settled with the city over alleged violations.

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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