The city of Chicago is debating whether to create new jobs at the expense of eliminating a relic of the city’s past.
Namely, three massive, city-owned buildings that hold historical significance to the city’s industrial past may be sold, so that commercial interests can move in.
It is thought that the presence of large companies in Chicago’s Central Manufacturing District, which is on the South Side of the city, would lead to more jobs and business activity, reinvigorating the area.
The buildings date all the way back to 1902. At their height of popularity, they were home to over 200 firms— a diverse set of companies ranging from Wrigley Chewing Gum to Westinghouse Electric.
The buildings were deeded to the city of Chicago in the early 1980s, and are now primarily used to store various items, such as voting machines and parade floats. They also provide city services.
As only 45 percent of the space in the buildings is currently in use, the city has been looking to sell some— or all— of the space.
Since the buildings were put into consideration for partial or full sale in February 2015, a number of businesses have expressed interest in moving in, including call centers, financial services companies, and manufacturing firms.
Others have imagined more creative uses.
The Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT), a non-profit committed to sustainable development and livable urban communities, has pitched the idea of the city redeveloping the entire area into a environmentally-friendly industrial park.
Whatever ends up happening, it looks likely that a mostly vacant, yet historic site with over 1.7 million square feet of space will soon be replaced by businesses.