CHICAGO-Owners on the fringes of the new 907-acre Pilsen Planned Manufacturing District were unsuccessful in attempts to keep their properties off the new map. The plan commission recently recommended approval of the new district along the Chicago River that straddles three wards, effectively preserving the area for industrial use.

The price of the new district could be about $75 per sf, suggests Scott Heidler, current owner of Heidler Hardwood Co. at 2559 S. Damen Ave. “The city is locking down the future value of my land by locking down the future use of my land,” he says.

Owners of the 11.8-acre Crowley’s Boat Yard and 4.6-acre World Paper Storage just west of Halsted Street along the river were among those arguing against their properties being included on the new map, pointing to residential redevelopment on neighboring properties. Access to the properties is limited by low viaducts, restricting truck traffic, and the sites are smaller than what typical users aim to buy, says Matt Lieberman of Equis Corp. “I would not recommend this site to an industrial user, and would suggest they look elsewhere,” says Lieberman, who testified on behalf of the two property owners.

“The river is a natural boundary for the PMD,” says attorney Jack Guthman, representing the two owners of property on the river’s south bank. Meanwhile, other property owners in the northeast corner of the new district suggest the boundary there should he Halsted or Canal Street.

Thomas Ramsdell, an attorney representing Lumber Street Development Corp., notes his clients’ property is across the street from a new city park as well as burgeoning residential redevelopment. “Manufacturing companies have already left,” Ramsdell says. “Locking in manufacturing in an area where it has already left, doesn’t make sense.”

Encroachment of residential development is one reason why his Allied Metal Co. left the Pilsen neighborhood, says David Fink. “Zoning something manufacturing doesn’t make it desirable as manufacturing land,” he says.

Department of planning and development project manager Linda Mercado says the future uses of properties were considered in decisions on the district’s map. “The northeast section of the PMD was the most difficult part to include in the PMD,” she concedes. While the recommendation was made after a rare, non-unanimous vote, the 6-2 decision was sent to the city council.

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