CRRNH_CosmoPhotoMDWArmory_032724

City wants to buy armory at MDW

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Has been vacant since 2017

By Tim Hadac

For decades, it served military purposes, as well as Chicago’s gateway for Presidents stopping off in the city.

But the Army National Guard Midway Armory, 5400 W. 63rd St., has been mostly vacant since 2017, when the Illinois Army National Guard ceased operations there and relocated its unit to Kankakee.

Last year, the Lightfoot Administration expressed an interest in purchasing the 75,000 square-foot building and land from the state. Enabling legislation was introduced into City Council.

CRRNH CosmoPhotoMDWArmory 032724

Vacant since 2017, the Army National Guard Midway Armory, 5400 W. 63rd St., is laden with Southwest Side history. –Photo by Cosmo Hadac

Last week, Mayor Brandon Johnson’s office announced that the Chicago Department of Aviation will enter into negotiations to acquire the old armory and its four acres of property.

The enabling ordinance that passed earlier this month would permit the CDA to enter negotiations with the state to purchase the structure and the land it sits on for fair market value. The purchase would be financed strictly by airport funds, without the use of any local taxpayer dollars, officials said.

Constructed in about 1940, the armory was a hornet’s nest of activity during World War II and played similar but lesser roles during the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

Headlines of years gone by showed President Dwight D. Eisenhower arriving there by plane and then using a nearby VIP gate to be escorted via limousine east on 63rd Street and north on Cicero as he headed downtown.

A famous photo posted online shows future President John F. Kennedy using the same gate in 1960 as he waves to Clearing residents clustered on 63rd Street.

In 2024, the purchase is important to CDA operations for several reasons, officials added. Acquiring the property allows the CDA to secure that portion of Midway’s perimeter, contributing to the overall safety and security of Midway’s operation.

The purchase also allows the CDA to retain control of the land that sits immediately adjacent to Midway property, which will help ensure the property’s uses are compatible with airport operations, particularly since a portion of the property lies within the federally regulated Runway Protection Zone (RPZ) for Midway Runway 4R/22L, officials said.

Finally, the property may have future utility for CDA operations, as the existing facility can be used for interior storage of snow removal equipment.

The sale of the property to the CDA would be contingent on future negotiations with the State of Illinois and approval by the Illinois General Assembly.

3 Comments

  1. Chucki Twona on March 23, 2024 at 7:32 am

    If you want to use it for migrants, I hope it gets stopped.Don’t need that in our neighborhood



  2. Bella on March 23, 2024 at 7:48 am

    what they say and what they do is another question !! How do we know if they try to be sneaky and fix it up for the immigrants ??since housing has become a big issue ,there are to many and no where to house them …no jobs…More and more citizens are leaving Illinois because of all the high taxes,,etc etc .if this keeps up and your left with just immigrants wonder where your taxes will come from then ????..



  3. Luz Paredes on March 23, 2024 at 3:00 pm

    All migrants should be housed in Englewood. All the empty houses in that neighborhood should be rehabilitated and provided with housing for migrants. Surely, they will be better off than in their old country.



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