Hilco reaches $12M settlement with Little Village residents
Redevelopment of former Crawford Coal Plant left area covered with dust
A legal battle stemming from a demolition that blanketed Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood with dust is nearing a conclusion.
A federal court has granted preliminary approval for a $12 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit against Hilco Redevelopment, Block Club reported.
The case spawned from the implosion of the Crawford Coal Plant, at 3501 South Pulaski Road, which occurred during the start of the pandemic. The demolition was part of Hilco’s plan to redevelop the site into a warehouse and distribution center.
The settlement, reached last month in U.S. District Court, covers those within a specified boundary on the day of the demolition. The area is between Cermak Road, California Avenue, 33rd Street and Kilbourn Avenue.
The lawsuit was filed in 2020 by Little Village residents Antonio Solis, Jose Solis and Juan Rangel, alleging that the implosion released toxic debris and particulate matter, posing risks to the community’s safety. The settlement includes owners or lessees whose property was left covered with particulate matter that day.
Hilco denies any violation of the law or the allegations in the original complaint. The settlement aims to conclude the lawsuit, thus avoiding uncertainties and costs of a trial.
People interested in payouts from the settlement must submit their claims before March 26. The settlement notice emphasizes that those opting for the payout cannot take additional legal action against Hilco, the outlet reported.
The implosion in April 2020 became a focal point in the debate over environmental racism on the Southwest Side. Activists had urged the city to halt demolition amid the pandemic, but it proceeded, resulting in $68,000 in fines against Hilco and a $370,000 settlement with the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.
Despite facing opposition from the community, Hilco subsequently transformed the site into a Target distribution center and announced plans for a fleet storage yard in 2022. A leaked report from the city’s former inspector general in 2023 revealed that city officials were aware of potential consequences but failed to take sufficient action to prevent the mishap, the outlet said.