MCKINLEY PARK — When ComEd announced the multi-billion dollar overhaul of its power grid system, the company also pledged to open a new training center somewhere on the Southwest Side.
It looks like that training center is headed to 35th and Iron streets, just west of Bubbly Creek.
A ComEd spokesperson confirmed the location to DNAinfo Chicago but did not elaborate on the project's timeline or details about the building, which the company has previously said would train workers on the "installation and operation of smart grid technologies on the electrical system."
Currently, the site is overrun with heavy equipment and workers preparing the site for eventual construction.
Whenever it's complete, the training center is expected to pave the way for the next generation of energy industry workers.
"This business is growing so fast with the introduction of renewable energy, closing of the coal units, deployment of nuclear units, the introduction of applications of batteries, you name it. This is an endless business and the energy industry is going to face a complete revitalization," said Mohammad Shahidepour, director of the Robert W. Galvin Center for Electricity Innovation at the Illinois Institute of Technology, which works closely with ComEd to develop emerging energy technology.
"The introduction of the "smart grid" is going to make everything easier for electricity. But you have to educate and train the newcomers on how these devices work," he said.
The move by ComEd might clear up some confusion about redevelopment in the former industrial corridor.
Speculation has run rampant about what's planned for the nearby Wrigley Gum factory at 35th Street and Ashland Avenue, which has undergone a partial demolition.
Will it be a Wal-Mart? Lowe's? A strip mall?
"We've heard it's going to be a secret military base," quipped developer J.C. Avgeris of Avgeris and Associates.
For now, the Avgeris company is staying mum until an Oct. 28 zoning hearing. They're hoping to add a classification that would allow retail, commercial and office space to the otherwise barren landscape, which is zoned as a planned manufacturing district.
"I have nothing in the hopper but we have interested parties. We think it would a great retail use," he said.
The zoning change was requested by Ald. James Balcer (11th), who did not return calls seeking comment.
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