Christmas in McKinley Park

The derelict Continental Can Company building on South Ashland Avenue will be demolished and replaced in a proposal by Karis Cold Storage.

Cold Storage Pitched to Replace Historic Central Manufacturing District Building

Published September 28, 2022

A plan to build a cold storage facility on the site of an historic Continental Can Company plant at the northeast corner of South Ashland Avenue and West Pershing Pershing got the cold shoulder from attendees at a September 21, 2022, meeting of the McKinley Park Development Council.

 
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“Another blank wall on Ashland is just another blank and windowless building in a city recognized for its architecture and built environment,” Ward Miller, executive director for Preservation Chicago, said at the meeting.

 
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Karis Cold Storage LLC presented plans to build a 100,000-square-foot cold storage building for use by a produce or meat company. This use is allowed within the property’s current location within Planned Manufacturing District No. 8: an area the City of Chicago has designated for industrial and commercial businesses.

An architect's conception shows how the Karis Cold Storage warehouse might look from South Ashland Avenue.An architect's conception shows how the Karis Cold Storage warehouse might look from South Ashland Avenue.Miller noted how the structures under consideration for demolition are part of the Original East District of the Chicago Manufacturing District, an area Preservation Chicago highlighted in its 2021 Most Endangered list.

Currently Blighted

At the very least, the developer should work the building’s existing brick tower and Ashland Avenue-fronting facades into the proposed plans, Miller said.

 
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The development team noted how the existing building is blighted, with broken windows and extensive graffiti.

The City of Chicago requires air quality and traffic studies, as well as at least two community meetings, toward approval of the project.

According to the developer’s proposal, the area of the building facing Ashland would have ceilings at least 50 feet high to allow for added height in a deep freeze storage area. The building would be clad in white insulated metal panel so as not to absorb heat.

Traffic and Emissions

In compliance with a city request, the developer set the building back 15 feet from the lot line and agreed to plant a row of tall trees in the setback area, developers said.

The development team said that 60 trucks would make daily trips in and out of the proposed facility, along with 140 cars, accounting for 0.2 percent to 0.3 percent of rush hour traffic on adjacent streets.

 
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Emissions will create an insignificant impact, the development team said, and trucks and building emissions will be well below the limits set by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

Canvas for Art

The Karis Cold Storage site plan shows the warehouse layout at the northeast corner of South Ashland Avenue and West Pershing Road.The Karis Cold Storage site plan shows the warehouse layout at the northeast corner of South Ashland Avenue and West Pershing Road.Robert Gamrath, the attorney for the developer, said that there may be an opportunity for artwork by a local artist to be on display on the Ashland Avenue street wall, possibly in the middle of the building. Developers also may commission a mural on the Ashland-facing wall, he said.

 
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Alderwoman Nicole Lee, who represents the 11th Ward in which the property resides, attended the meeting and said her office has been impressed with how the developers have been willing to work with the community.

Next Steps

Developers for the site proposal will submit their plans to the City of Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development. If approved, they anticipate receiving building permits by May 2023, when they will demolish the existing building and begin construction.

The facility should be complete and ready for business use in early 2024, developers said.

Photography by Kevin O'Neil


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