Pritzker wants to sell Damen Silos, an industrial site that once served as the backdrop for the movie 'Transformers'

Governor JB Pritzker wants to sell an abandoned industrial site on Chicago’s lower west side, better known as a backdrop for the 2014 Hollywood blockbuster “Transformers: Age of Extinction.” The state will accept bids this fall for Damen Silos at 2900 S. Damen Ave. along the South Branch of the Chicago River, a 23.4-acre property also familiar to drivers on the Stevenson Expressway for its towering ancient grain silos.

Officials said the sale of Damen Silos will relieve the state of a financial burden, and a buyer could transform it into a data center, telecommunications facility, cannabis business or industrial complex, giving surrounding neighborhoods an economic boost. .

“The sale of this surplus property will create significant economic opportunities in Chicago’s Lower West Side and McKinley Park communities, while saving the State the cost of annual operating expenses,” said Anthony Pascente, Acting Director of Services. Central Administration of the state, in a prepared statement. statement.

It may not be an easy property to download. The state tried to auction off Damen Silos in 2014, but officials ended up calling off the potential deal, according to Mike Senner, an industry expert and executive vice president of Colliers International.

“It was withdrawn because the auction had limited participation,” he said. “There were concerns about the cost of asbestos removal, demolition costs, the costs of building a seawall and other environmental costs.”

But Damen Silos could attract more bidders now than in 2014, Senner added. Over the past eight years, builders have filled development sites throughout the Chicago area with new logistics and distribution warehouses as consumers increasingly shopped for goods online and few vacancies remained.

“Demand should be better because there is very limited supply,” he said.

High inflation, interest rate hikes and other economic uncertainties in the first half of 2022 did not quell Chicagoland’s logistics boom, according to Colliers International. Product distributors occupied another 23 million square feet, beating last year’s record pace and reducing the vacancy rate to 4.58%, an all-time low.

The sale of Damen Silos is part of Pritzker’s push to rid the state’s real estate portfolio of properties that are outdated or too expensive to maintain. The administration sealed its most high-profile deal in that effort earlier this summer when Google agreed to buy the James R. Thompson Center, which state officials estimate will save taxpayers nearly $1 billion over 30 years.

The Illinois Department of Transportation took over Damen Silos from a railroad nearly a century ago and eventually used it to mix road construction materials. But in 2005, department officials said they no longer had a use for the property and transferred it to the state’s Central Management Services for disposal. Back in 2013, “Transformers” director Michael Bay was using it to set off fiery explosions.

The state is selling the property “as is,” and initial offers, which must be a minimum of $3.25 million, are due Oct. 19. Officials will choose the winning bid by November, according to a marketing brochure from Commercial Real Estate. JLL real estate company.

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