Ozingas is still trying to sway the Southern Siders over a massive underground warehouse

Ozingas is still trying to sway the Southern Siders over a massive underground warehouse

The Ozinga family, known for their namesake cement company, has spent nearly two years trying to sell Southeast residents the benefits of a 6 million square foot underground warehouse development project, but some members of the community are still skeptical about respecting the environment. safe and a godsend for the area.

One of the biggest concerns about the project known as Invert is that it will require a year of limestone excavation at the former Republic Steel site along the Calumet River. This, locals say, is an end to Chicago’s ban on mining. And they think the goal is to supply material for the family cement business.

In fact, Steve King, general manager of the Invert, said he had the same conversations with the town hall.

Even though the Invert isn’t even about to apply for building permits, King said he assured city hall that the limestone would not be processed in Chicago and would be transported, likely on a barge, by a other company.

“The city has been pretty clear that she can’t be dealt with in the city of Chicago,” King said in an interview.

The project, he said, is not planned by the Ozinga company but rather by a separate family-backed company that includes other investors. Internal engineering studies show the excavation – several hundred feet underground – can be done safely, he said.

That explanation doesn’t sit well with longtime South Side resident Marie Collins-Wright, who expressed concern about blasting at a polluted site right next to the river.

“It’s the worst thing I’ve ever heard,” she said in an interview. “Dynamite and mine under our water table? How many disasters can happen at the same time? »

The Invert opened a community engagement office in January 2021. On Wednesday, King and his staff hosted a presentation, billed as an open house, to answer questions from the community at St. Francis de Sales High School. The event is expected to be the first of several.

“We’re trying to do this development differently,” King said. “Developers generally don’t open engagement centers.”

At the open house, just over 30 attendees politely listened as King walked through a presentation on the Invert.

Just before the event, Maria Maynez, a youth organizer from the Alliance du Sud-Est community group, stood in front of St. Francis with seven other activists holding signs that read “Ozinga No mining in our backyard” and ” No more sacrifice zones”. When asked if there was anything the developer could do to convince her, Maynez replied that she didn’t think so.

King points to brownfield redevelopment to create hundreds of construction jobs and even more permanent jobs. Underground space can be used for storage, data centers, light manufacturing and other uses. It would take more than a decade to build it.

But despite talking to hundreds, if not thousands, of locals, King still has some work to do to convince community members.

King said the developer’s studies will show the safety of the project, and he promises there will be no negative environmental impact. The sound of the explosions will not be heard above ground, according to King. And he said preliminary results of an indoor air study – which have not yet been made public – show the emissions will not contribute to the area’s already poor air quality.

Residents of the Southeast are particularly concerned about pollution, as the area suffers from some of the dirtiest air in the city. A health impact assessment conducted around the proposed opening of the relocated General Iron car shredding operation just south of the proposed Invert site was cited by Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s public health officials when they decided to refuse the permit for this operation. The junkyard owner is attractive.

King heard many complaints and said he was aware. Some aspects of the Invert plan have changed, including a larger above-ground solar farm that will serve the community, he said.

The developer’s air quality study is required under a Lightfoot-sponsored ordinance that passed last year and is intended to address air pollution from new developments.

The concept of underground commercial space was introduced decades ago to Kansas City by businessman Lamar Hunt, former owner of the Kansas City Chiefs football team.

Originally wanting to start construction this year, King said he was committed to seeing the project done and welcomed careful consideration.

“Permits are way off,” King said. “We’re okay with that.”

Brett Chase’s reporting on the environment and public health is made possible by a grant from the Chicago Community Trust.

#Ozingas #sway #Southern #Siders #massive #underground #warehouse

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *