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Mayor Richard M. Daley today joined Southeast Side residents and community leaders to celebrate the return to productive use after 30 years of one of the City's most historic industrial locations, the former Wisconsin Steel plant at 2835 E. 106th St.
Construction is about 70 per cent complete on a new storage facility being built on the property by Asphalt Operating Services, from which the company will receive and ship out liquid asphalt by barge, rail and truck. Construction was made possible, in part, by $45 million in Recovery Zone Facility Bonds issued by the City and a property tax incentive from Cook County.
"What is going up on this property is a shining example of what can be accomplished by people working together," Daley said at another stop on the "Neighborhood Appreciation Tour" he is making before he leaves office in May.
The construction project has created 100 temporary jobs and the facility itself will create 45 new permanent jobs.
A steel plant was first established on the site in 1875. Wisconsin Steel was created around 1902 and closed in 1980.
"Ever since then, the City and the residents of the neighborhoods of the Southeast Side have worked together to restore economic opportunity and optimism to the community,” Daley said.
"We realize that the steel industry as we used to know it isn't coming back. But the neighborhoods of this part of the City – South Chicago, Hegewisch, East Side, South Deering and others – are coming back. And that is a tribute to every resident, business, and community or not-for-profit organization on the Southeast Side,” he said.
The Mayor highlighted some of the things the City and 10th ward residents have accomplished together:
- In addition to its efforts at the Wisconsin Steel property, the City has also carried out $39 million in Tax Increment Financing (TIF)-funded public-private redevelopment agreements, including the modernization of Ford's Torrence Avenue plant and the construction of the Supplier Park adjacent to the plant.
- The City has used $14 million in TIF funding to rehabilitate the Torrence Avenue bridge over the Calumet River, re-surface Avenue O and carry out other street improvement projects.
- The City has committed $96 million in TIF funding to the U.S. Steel South Works Plant redevelopment. When the total project is complete, it is expected to create almost 1,000 permanent jobs. As part of that project, the City's Department of Transportation is already carrying out the U.S. 41 relocation project, which will result in a new alignment for U.S. 41 from 79th Street to Ewing Avenue.
Daley pointed out the Southeast Side historically has been more than just a great industrial center. It is also the location of one of the City's greatest natural treasures – the wetlands of the Calumet area.
- As the City has worked to promote industrial redevelopment in this community, it has also created a long-range plan for sustainable development of the land around Lake Calumet with a goal of creating an enormous urban nature preserve. The plan is composed of the Calumet Land Use Plan, the Calumet Open Space Reserve Plan and the Calumet Design Guidelines.
- Last month, the City Council approved the transfer of 537 acres of open space to the Park District for permanent preservation. This includes Hegewisch Marsh, Big Marsh and Indian Ridge Marsh.
- The City's Department of Housing and Economic Development has undertaken numerous projects to help make affordable housing available in this part of the City, including:
- Supporting the construction of Victory Center of South Chicago with 112 units of affordable supportive living for seniors.
- Creating 84 units of senior housing at Senior Suites of Hegewisch, through a public/private partnership oragnized to provide quality, affordable rental housing with services for seniors.
- Supporting New Homes for South Chicago, which incorporates various green features into the planned 12 single-family and 13 two-flat homes.
- Supporting Casa Kirk Apartments, offering 30 affordable apartments for low-income and formerly homeless families with supportive services.
- The Chicago Housing Authority upgraded the Trumbull Park Homes, restoring 437 units of housing.
- Last month, the City Department of Family and Support Services opened a new Service Center at 8650 S. Commercial Av., which will anable DFSS to provide service to clients more efficiently.
- In 2002, the City opened the new Air Sea Rescue Faciklity at E. 95th St. and Lake Michigan.
- The City has marked 1.7 miles of bike lanes in the 10th Ward.
- The Department of Water Management has lined 3 miles of old sewer, installed more than 25 miles of new water main and installed more than 3.5 miles of new sewer.
- The CTA has expanded service on the 14 Jeffrey Express and added the new 15 Jeffrey Local bus route and the new 26 South Shore Express route. The CTA has also added bus service (the 34 bus) to the Calumet Industrial Disposal District for job access and a new express route, the X28 Stony Island Express to downtown.
- The City designated as landmarks the former Calumet National Bank Building, 9117 S. Commercial Av., and the Chicago & Western Indiana and Lake Shore and Michigan Southern railroad bridges over the Calumet River.
- Since 1993, the Chicago Park District has acquired more than 36 acres of park land in the 10th ward. These acquisitions include the development of boat launch ramps, the harbor and a new artificial turf athletic field at Calumet Park; the ice rink at Rowan Park; and the phase one and two development of the former USX Steel site at Park #523.
- The City has added a new campus park at the Jane Addams Elementary School and created seven new community gardens in the 10th ward.
"So I'm here today to thank everyone in the 10th ward for their advice, support and cooperation. Thank you for your ideas, your input and your time,” Daley said.
"In everything we've tried to do, we have sought out ideas and opinions from everyone and tried to involve every community. The results of that cooperation can be seen in examples like the ones I have given today. And I believe they will lead Chicago to a future full of opportunity and prosperity,” he said.
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