The façade of the Continental Can. Co plant has been a McKinley Park eyesore for years. Developers envision a new building with a utilitarian yet attractive exterior. --Supplied photos

The façade of the Continental Can. Co plant has been a McKinley Park eyesore for years. Developers envision a new building with a utilitarian yet attractive exterior. --Supplied photos

Continental Can demolition ‘imminent’

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Eyesore at 38/Ashland going away

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By Dermot Connolly

The long-vacant Continental Can Co. building at 3815 S. Ashland will soon be demolished to make room for a 100,000 sq. ft. cold-storage facility.

Representatives of Karis Cold, the developer of the $30 million project, explained their plans at a Feb. 8 community meeting at McKinley Park. They were joined by 11th Ward Ald. Nicole Lee (11th), in whose ward the site is located, 12th Ward Ald. Julia Ramirez and Dominick DiSilvio, general manager of American Demolition Co.

 

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Plans call for the cold-storage facility to use about as much space as the Continental Can Co. plant did. –Supplied image

A handful of community residents attended the meeting in person, but Lee livestreamed it.

“We’re here because a lot of residents will be asking about it,” said Ramirez.

“We’ve already have had three community meetings, in August and September of 2022,” said Stephen Schuster, an attorney for Karas, who gave a brief presentation on the plans for the development with Ken Verne, vice president of the company.

“Public safety is of the utmost importance. It is important that we have transparency about a big demolition like this,” said Lee, thanking the officials for holding the meeting as the project moves forward.

“We are just the developer,” said Verne, who explained that the 100,000 sq. ft. cold storage facility planned for the site will be leased to companies that will use it for storing produce, meat and other perishable foods destined for stores and restaurants.

“It will basically take up the same footprint that is there now,” said Verne, referring to the five-acre site, which Karis is in the process of buying from Avgernis & Associates.

Since plans for the redevelopment were announced in 2022, some residents have questioned why there are no plans to salvage much of the existing building, completed in 1920 and which represents a vanishing part of McKinley Park’s origins as a planned industrial community.

“It is just a shame that this is the first planned manufacturing district in the world and almost nothing has been saved. I am extremely disappointed,” said McKinley Park resident Shawn Ursini. “We talk a good game (in Chicago) about being interested in architecture. But we just don’t care about the history as much as we say we do.”

He called watching the historic buildings being demolished, “a death by 1,000 cuts.”

“I am not against the project,” he added. “McKinley Park will be feeding the city.”

“McKinley Park has been feeding the city for 150 years,” said Lee.

“We do appreciate the history. It is not for a lack of want. But there is not much left in the graffiti-covered building to salvage. The roof has caved in, and it has been vacant for such a long time,” said Verne, adding that the site has been used for rave parties by youths in recent years.

Verne said the new facility will be “purpose-built,” with a completely white exterior and glycol system in the floor and insulation throughout to keep temperatures low, between -10 degrees and 55 degrees Fahrenheit for days, even if there is a power outage.

He said there will be a 15-foot setback from Ashland Avenue, leaving room for landscaping and a mural to make the site more visually attractive.

Ursini suggested using whatever bricks can be saved to make planters in front of the building, and the developer agreed to save as much Chicago common brick as possible for that.

“This is considered a complex demolition,” said DiSilvio, who predicted his work will be completed in about four months. Asbestos was removed from the site during the first phase, and the demolition plans have been approved by a structural engineer.

“It will be all mechanical demolition—no explosives,” said DiSilvio.

“We are going to set up air monitors on the four corners to test for dust hourly. If there is an anomaly, we will change our methods,” he said.

“We are going to have water cannons—the size of a pick-up truck on trailers hooked up to fire hydrants,” said DiSilvio, explaining that mist will be sprayed to keep dust particles from dispersing into the neighborhood.

“We will use a crane and wrecking ball on some sections. We have been doing this a long time—more than 30 years—and our methods work very well,” said DiSilvio.

Verne noted that American Demolition already took down the Wrigley building located nearby at 35th and Ashland, and has a good reputation.

DiSilvio said an exterminator and city inspector found no rodent activity in bait traps, probably because no food was stored on the premises, so rats should not be a problem.

The site will be secured with a chain-link fence and tarps will be hung around the exterior to prevent demolition work from interfering with the community.

DiSilvio said debris will be either recycled or sent to a landfill, but no crushing will be done on site.

“I am happy to hear there will be no crushing done onsite,” said Lee.

Verne said expects about 100,000 staffing-hours to be spent on the construction, costing about $200 per square foot for construction.

“Our goal is to make the most energy-efficient building,” said Verne.

Lee and Ramirez asked that the developer and demolition company give the ward offices at least a week’s notice before demolition begins soon.

“We know it is imminent,” said Lee.

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The façade of the Continental Can. Co plant has been a McKinley Park eyesore for years. Developers envision a new building with a utilitarian yet attractive exterior. –Supplied photos

GSWNH NewBldg38Ashland 021624

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