Photo by Dermot Connolly
Heavy equipment operators were hard at work last week tearing down the dilapidated loading docks on the former site of a Yellow Freight Co. trucking terminal at 10301 S. Harlem Avenue in Chicago Ridge that has been vacant for decades. Several acres of the site, now owned by Crown Properties, are going to be redeveloped into retail and warehouse space.
By Dermot Connolly
Demolition work has finally begun on the former Yellow Freight trucking terminal at 10301 S. Harlem Ave. in Chicago Ridge to make room for future retail development.
Since Yellow Freight vacated it in the 1990s, the 75-acre property located across Harlem from Bridgeview and Palos Hills had become an eyesore in the area. But it is now owned by Crown Enterprises, and the Chicago Ridge Village Board recently rezoned the property to allow the owner to move ahead with redevelopment plans.
“ I was very happy to see the heavy equipment moving in,” said Chicago Ridge Mayor Chuck Tokar last week. “They are going to be taking down the (loading) dock.”
Indeed, there were several excavators moving around the property last week, using long-reach arms to methodically tear down the structure, piece by piece.
Tokar said that on Aug. 11, the Village Board rezoned the property from mixed-use to commercial and restricted manufacturing. The zoning had been changed a couple of years ago, in part to ensure that it could no longer be used as a trucking terminal. The site lies within a 105-acre TIF zone, and the goal was to make it more attractive for redevelopment.
But the change came about the time that Crown Enterprises purchased the site from Chippewa Freight, and led to a lawsuit by the new owner seeking to disconnect the property from Chicago Ridge and annex it to either Bridgeview or Palos Hills across the street.
However, that legal action has been dropped as part of an agreement with the village that included the rezoning to allow the dilapidated site to be redeveloped. The razing of the existing structures is the first step in the plans by Glazier Corp. developers to build a retail strip on 10 acres of the site facing Harlem where the trucking terminal was, along with a “warehouse distribution property behind it.”
The property stretches east from Harlem Avenue to the edge of Stony Creek and borders Interstate 294. Tokar said he is most concerned with what goes in on the section facing Harlem Avenue, since the area close to the creek was used to deposit debris from the 1967 tornado. The soft ground may not be suitable for development.
Representatives of Glazier said in August that they will be collaborating with the village on the exact plans for the coming months, which are only in the preliminary stages now.
“ I don’t expect to see plans for the redevelopment come before the Village Board for consideration until late winter or early spring next year due to delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Tokar.
The mayor noted that Glazier Corp. has a good reputation in the area, and has already successfully worked with village officials to build the new Starbucks that opened last year at 10259 S. Harlem, adjacent to where the demolition is going on now.
Glazier also developed Evergreen Marketplace, a retail mall at 2440 W. 95 th St. in Evergreen Park; Orland Commons at 15845 S. Harlem Ave. in Orland Park, and several retail and restaurant developments on Cicero Avenue in Crestwood.
Crown Enterprises also owns a site on Southwest Highway in Chicago Ridge, east of the TIF district, and Glazier has expressed interest in developing that into a medical facility as well.