First South Side Manufacturing in Decades; Builds on Wider Efforts to Redevelop Historic Area
Chicago (April 28, 2015) – Method, the environmentally-friendly cleaning products manufacturer, will open its Pullman factory on Tuesday, April 28, marking the successful completion of an important piece of Alderman Beale’s efforts to revitalize Chicago’s Pullman neighborhood. “We gave Method the full-court press from our community, and they chose Pullman not just because of its infrastructural advantages like being so close to rail, road, and water transit,” said Alderman Anthony Beale of the 9th Ward, where the factory is located, “But also because our story about a community working to revitalize itself resonated with their corporate values.”
After scouting dozens of locations throughout the U.S., the company decided to locate in the Pullman Park commercial development. A project spearheaded by Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives (CNI), a local development group, Pullman Park is home to a Wal-Mart, Ross, and Planet Fitness, and has created hundreds of permanent jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity, helping to lift Chicago’s Far South Side as it recovers from years of disinvestment. In addition to the soap facility, the factory will be home to the world’s largest rooftop farm, to be built atop the building by the Brooklyn-based Gotham Green. The farm will provide fresh produce year-round.
As recently as a decade ago, Pullman was a community written off by many. The Pullman works had been long shuttered, the restoration of the Florence Hotel had failed to spark revival, and many of the iconic homes built by George Pullman for his workers were abandoned. Thousands of jobs once supplied by the steel mills and rail industry had disappeared. Yet today, all that has changed. Where others saw despair, Alderman Beale, CNI President David Doig, and local community groups saw opportunity: a place with ‘good bones’, ample land, and committed residents. Method’s factory, the first new manufacturing facility on the South Side in decades, is validation of that vision.
“Pullman, Roseland, and the entire Far South Side were once forgotten communities. But because of our persistent, focused efforts, and the dedication of companies like Method, people are noticing us once again. Businesses are opening, housing is being rehabbed—we’re rebuilding the thriving live-work community that Pullman once was,” explained Beale. Pullman Park, sitting as it does on the former Ryerson Steel site, which was shuttered nearly a decade ago, represents the transition of a former heavy industrial area into the kind of mixed-use area that has been the key to turning around struggling urban areas across the country. Nearby, dozens of the formerly derelict rowhomes have received major rehabs. And the factory’s opening comes close on the heels of President Obama’s declaration of the Pullman National Historical Monument, which will rejuvenate the nearby historic district, create hundreds of jobs, and draw thousands of new visitors annually, prompting new retail, hotel, and restaurant development in the area.