3 new vehicle maintenance facilities could help development in Englewood

Chicago’s longtime fleet maintenance facility — located on prime riverfront land in the North Branch Industrial corridor — will be replaced with three new facilities, under a $41.5 million “design-build” contract advanced Friday.

The City Council’s Committee on Housing and Real Estate signed off on the agreement with AECOM, a multi-national engineering firm that provides design, consulting, construction and management services to clients around the world.

The “turn-key” project has the potential to be a catalyst for development in the impoverished but rebounding Englewood community.

That’s because the primary facility for repairing city vehicles, including snow plows, street sweepers, police cars and fire trucks, will be built on the vacant site of the old Kennedy-King College, 210 W. 69th Street.

A “satellite” vehicle repair shop will be built at 4241 N. Neenah. A new fueling station will be built at 1152 North Branch Street.

Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th), whose ward includes the Kennedy-King site, acknowledged that that the fleet maintenance facility will merely “relocate” jobs from the North Side to the South Side. It will not bring any new jobs to Englewood.

“What I am excited about is not just the renovation of a site that’s been vacant for several years. But on the other side of the site, we also will have a retail corridor that we have not had in that area forever,” Sawyer said.

“We’ve gonna bring 200-to-300 new people there who are gonna have to shop. They’re gonna have to eat. They’re gonna have to bank. The combination of all this will be an economic boon for the Grand Crossing-Englewood portion of my ward.”

AECOM was one of only two bidders for the contract, bankrolled with proceeds from the sale of the 18-acre riverfront site to mega-developer Sterling Bay for $104.7 million.

South Side Ald. Sophia King (4th) questioned why a Chicago-based firm could not be found to perform the same work.

Fleet and Facilities Management Commissioner David Reynolds responded that AECOM “has the capacity” to deliver the three new shops “before the next snow season.”

“We’re doing quite a lot of work in a short period of time. I don’t want to be in the position a year from now of having a snowstorm and having to say that we can’t fix trucks because we’re moving,” Reynolds said.

AECOM was represented at Friday’s hearing by former Planning and Development Commissioner Denise Casalino.

The company has promised that 50 percent of the “work hours” on the three projects will be performed by Chicago residents and that 15 percent of those hours will be performed by people who live in the neighborhood.

As for construction, 28 percent of the contracts will be set aside for companies owned by minorities with 8 percent earmarked for firms controlled by women.

Leslie Darling, executive director of the Chicago Infrastructure Trust, said she expects to “exceed those goals.” The slow-starting Infrastructure Trust conducted the procurement in coordination with City Hall.

Source: Chicago sun