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General Iron, Controversial Metal Scrap Yard, Shut Down By City

By Mina Bloom | April 28, 2016 4:21pm
 General Iron, 1909 N. Clifton Ave., the day after the extra-alarm.
General Iron, 1909 N. Clifton Ave., the day after the extra-alarm.
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DNAinfo/Mina Bloom

LINCOLN PARK — General Iron — a long-running metal scrap yard that is facing growing backlash from community leaders, including local aldermen — was shut down by the city this week. 

The metal scrap yard and wholesaler, 1909 N. Clifton Ave., is closed after failing a building inspection Monday, according to city records.

The city's department of buildings found a total of 28 violations, ranging from a failure to perform repairs to reduce sound and accumulation of debris to combustible and flammable liquids not being stored in the proper storage room, records show. 

The department issued an "emergency vacate" notice to the facility Wednesday, according to Mimi Simon, spokeswoman for the department of buildings.

It comes after Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) and Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) called for the facility's closure in December following an extra-alarm fire that threw huge plumes of smoke into the air visible from miles away.

The aldermen, along with other community leaders and residents, say the scrap yard no longer belongs in ever-evolving Lincoln Park, citing safety and noise concerns.

Hopkins is leading the charge to scrap the area's long-standing industrial zoning designation in order to open up the area, including the former Finkl Steel mill, to other types of developments like residential and commercial. The city has expressed support for Hopkins' plan.

But North Branch Works, an organization that has long fought to keep industrial jobs in the area, wants to see the area stay industrial. The group said General Iron has a "long reputation for being a responsible operator."

Adam Labkon, one of the owners of General Iron, said his company is "complying with the city order" and working to "address their concerns."

"We are doing everything we can to reopen as soon as possible," Labkon said in a prepared statement. 

Simon said the owners are "cooperating with the city order." 

"The elevator shafts have been secured and ownership is meeting with the department of buildings this afternoon to begin addressing the building code violations," Simon said in an email.

General Iron has called Lincoln Park home for more than a century. Run by the Labkon family for generations, the facility reportedly shreds 2,000 tons of metal a day. It employs 108 workers, who make an average of over $70,000 a year, according to Terri Cornelius, a spokeswoman for General Iron. 

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