General Iron’s eyes return to Lincoln Park

The owner of General Iron is proposing to bring the scrap car and metal shredding business back to Lincoln Park, where it operated for decades before closing in late 2020.

Last month, city officials formally rejected the plan – submitted through three permit applications in February. A company affiliated with scrap metal company owner Reserve Management Group recently appealed and is seeking a hearing with a city administrative judge who will review the city’s decision. No hearing date is set.

After RMG built a new shredding operation at East 116th Street along the Calumet River, Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady denied Reserve Management an operating permit in February, citing health and pollution problems.

The reserve’s management is also appealing the decision in hopes of overturning the decision and will face an administrative judge at a hearing on the matter on April 21.

In addition, reserve management has offered to reinstate permits for three parcels of land at and around 1909 N. Clifton Ave. These permit applications were filed just days after Arwady, appointed by Mayor Lori Lightfoot, rejected the plan to operate on the southeast side.

The city said in a response to the company that its previous license to operate on the north side had expired, the company did not have zoning approval and also said that the management of the reserve had not properly requested a license for large metal shredding operations under rules that have come into force. effect almost two years ago.

Asked about the possibility of a return to Lincoln Park, Lightfoot noted the many nuisance complaints neighbors had about the facility, adding “I don’t see that as a possibility.”

“General Iron has a long and checkered history at Lincoln Park. The people of this neighborhood have spoken quite clearly. So I don’t see that as a real viable option,” Lightfoot said at an independent press conference on Monday.

General Iron ceased operations in Lincoln Park in late 2020 as part of an agreement with the city. Developers and city officials wanted its longtime owner, the Labkon family, to sell their 20 acres along the Chicago River to make way for a multi-billion dollar real estate development called Lincoln Yards.

When Reserve Management acquired General Iron in 2019, the Lincoln Park land was not part of the sale. Instead, the Labkon family clung to it. A listing with Colliers International real estate brokerage shows the land for sale and indicates that it can be divided into three plots or purchased as one.

The listing touts “direct access to high-end residential, retail and entertainment opportunities,” also noting that the land is zoned for heavy industrial use.

Aldus. Brian Hopkins (2nd), who represents the area, said in an interview that residents who often complained about pollution and odors from the largely open-air operation would not support his return and added “he is time to talk about the future of this site and not its industrial past.

Hopkins said the city was correct in denying Reserve Management’s request.

“It seems that the justification for the refusal is both obvious and obvious. I don’t know why they would waste their time with a hearing,” Hopkins said. “Under no circumstances would the community want a return to the toxic polluting history of its recent past.”

Through a spokesperson, Reserve Management executives declined to comment. A spokesperson for Arwady and the health department also declined to comment.

General Iron was the last major piece of an industrial corridor that once thrived on the North Arm of the Chicago River. Over the years, other companies, including Finkl Steel, have moved.

General Iron’s proposed move from Lincoln Park, an affluent, predominantly white community, to a predominantly Latino neighborhood on the southeast side has sparked protests and a formal civil rights complaint to federal housing officials . Community organizers asked the Department of Housing and Urban Development to determine whether their rights had been violated as defined by the Fair Housing Act. This investigation into the city continues.

Contributor: Fran Spielman

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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