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Finkl Demolition Begins in March, Forcing Closure of Cortland Street

By  Alisa Hauser and Paul Biasco | February 11, 2015 8:34am 

 Cortland, between Mendell and Kingsbury, will be closed the first week of March, CDOT officials said. 
Cortland Street Along Finkl Plant
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BUCKTOWN — One of the few east-west routes across the river between Bucktown and Lincoln Park — abutting the shuttered A. Finkl & Sons steel plant — will be closed during the first week of March, city officials confirmed on Tuesday.

Alisa Hauser says it's a major shortcut:

Initially scheduled for earlier this week, the closure, impacting a third-of-a-mile stretch of Cortland just east of the river, was pushed to next month, according to Pete Scales, a Water Department spokesman.

The closure is required so that crews can cap off a water main in advance of the demolition of multiple buildings on the Finkl site, according to Paul Sajovec, Chief of Staff for Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd).

The Water Department will be closing Cortland Street between Elston and Clybourn for water main work. The work is expected to start on at 9 a.m. Monday and end no later than 4 p.m. Friday.

"With underground utility lines, you need to be able to turn or cap off the water line that feeds it, or it could break the water main. It is common practice for water mains to be capped or turned off before tearing down buildings. It happens with homes, that isn't anything unusual," Sajovec said.

It is not clear of bike and pedestrian traffic will be rerouted too, though signs posted at the site warn, "Keep out, demolition in progress."

The stretch of Cortland Street that runs along the plant is often packed with school buses and industrial trucks in the mid-afternoon, causing back ups.

One Lincoln Park High School student decided to hop off the CTA No. 73 bus and walk home to Bucktown rather than take the bus on Monday.

"There's a lot of traffic. It's crazy," said Francine Konieczko, mother of the student. "It's just frustrating. There's no communication. There's nothing on the CTA website."

When asked about the possible scope of the project on Finkl's roughly 28 acres of land and how many buildings are facing the wrecking ball, Sajovec said he could not immediately confirm how many buildings will be demolished.

"There is a study being done now to supposedly figure out which buildings can be reused or repurposed. And the people that own [Finkl] are not taking part in the study," Sajovec said.

Located in the new 2nd ward, the future of the property and its redevelopment has been discussed in recent months, with high-tech companies eyeing the site, currently zoned only for manufacturing and industrial uses.

Scales said information on traffic reroutes during the closure is expected to be released soon.  

 

 

The Cortland Avenue View from Mendell Street, just east of Elston Avenue, provides a view of the Chicago skyline:

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