First building in massive Southeast Side industrial complex unveiled

Commerce Park Chicago is expected to support about 1,400 jobs when it’s completed in 2022.

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An assembly line worker uses suction cups to lift Explorer SUV doors into place at Ford’s Chicago Assembly Plant on June 24, 2019.

Ford Motor Co. opened a parts warehouse in Commerce Park Chicago to support the automaker’s nearby assembly plant.

Sun-Times file

City and business leaders Monday unveiled a new Ford warehouse in what’s expected to be a massive industrial park on the Southeast Side, the former home of Republic Steel.

The Ford facility, which opened in August, is being used to sort parts that are then taken to the company’s nearby Torrence Avenue assembly plant. The factory builds Explorer SUVs, Interceptors and Lincoln Aviators.

Commerce Park Chicago is being developed by NorthPoint Development. The project was first announced in 2018 during Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s final term.

“This project is truly emblematic of our city’s commitment to innovation, inclusion and economic empowerment,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said at the unveiling. “For nearly 20 years, the ground we’re standing on was barren — simply an empty shell of the economic powerhouse it once was.”

The new Ford facility, 12144 Avenue S, is the first of what are expected to be five buildings on a 2.3 million-square-foot campus. The entire $164 million project is expected to be completed by 2022, employing about 1,400, officials said.

“In today’s economy, that’s no small sack of potatoes,” said Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza, in whose 10th Ward the planned development sits.

In a statement, NorthPoint founder and CEO Nathaniel Hagedorn said, “Commerce Park Chicago represents the best in public-private projects and shows the value of what we can accomplish by working together. Our mission is to partner, build and manage employment hubs in ways that are both responsive to community needs and attractive to quality tenants.”

The tenants for the remaining four buildings have yet to be announced.

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