Contact Us

Neighbors Up In Arms Over Sale Of Former ‘Transformers’ Movie Site To Controversial Industrialist

The owner of an asphalt company has been announced as the high bidder on the abandoned industrial site along the south branch of the Chicago River known as Damen Silos — and its neighbors aren't pleased.

Damen Silos

The Illinois Department of Central Management Services said last week it would enter into negotiations with MAT Limited Partnership to acquire 2900 South Damen Ave. for $6.25M, twice the state’s minimum bid. The former construction materials mixing site, which has served as a backdrop for television shows and movies like 2014’s Transformers: Age of Extinction, went up for sale in August after reportedly becoming a burden on state coffers.

But Neighbors for Environmental Justice, a McKinley Park environmental group that has a history of run-ins with MAT co-owner Michael Tadin Jr., is protesting the sale and asking the state to reconsider, Block Club Chicago reports.

“It is unacceptable that the state of Illinois is again making plans about McKinley Park that do not include its residents," the group posted on Twitter Monday.

The group went on to list previous grievances with Tadin and the state, including a 2017 deal in which the state gave Tadin a permit to open MAT Asphalt across from McKinley Park, “next to schools, without any community notice or input.”

Neighbors for Environmental Justice has repeatedly complained that in addition to allowing the plant without consulting the community, the state is ignoring pollution and environmental racism on the part of MAT Asphalt.

“Now they want to do it again,” the group tweeted. “The state plans to sell the historic Damen Silos to Michael Tadin, so he can showcase the profits he has made polluting our community. Again there has been no process for community input, no interest in finding out what the people who live here want or need, and no consideration of the risks. Money was the sole consideration. Michael Tadin was rich and interested, and that was enough for [Gov. J.B. Pritzker].”

MAT has denied the plant is a major source of pollution, Block Club Chicago reported.

Tadin has faced other controversies, including an attempt to incorporate a portion of a public park into his own private yard in Lakeview.

This isn't the first time the state has tried to dispose of the 23.4-acre Damen Silos property. The state attempted to auction it off in 2014, but a potential deal was canceled due to concerns about the cost of asbestos removal, demolition and the building of a sea wall.

Bisnow previously reported that this time, state officials were confident the property would sell as is due to the market’s shrinking industrial supply. The building, once operated by the Illinois Department of Transportation to mix road construction materials, was transferred to the state’s Central Management Services for disposal in 2005 after officials declared it functionally useless.

“When complete, this sale will represent another step forward for that promise as well as bring significant economic development to Chicago’s Lower West Side,” Pritzker said in a release when it was put up for sale again this past summer.