CHICAGO – Built by private contractors on city-owned land
off Bessie Coleman Drive, a proposed $8 million center
would have given limousine drivers a staging area akin to a
truck stop, complete with showers, a car wash and
maintenance facilities. The complex was designed to improve
service by separating taxicabs and limousines at O'Hare.
Contractor Matt Baines and his partners agreed to build the
facility at their own expense on a 428,000-square-foot lot
used to stage construction equipment. In exchange, Chicago
taxpayers would have received a $1 million per year cut of
concession revenues and inherited the improvements at the
end of the lease.
City Hall is demanding that a private contractor fill in a
giant hole in the ground at O'Hare Airport that has
remained unfilled, ever since construction of an $8 million
commercial vehicle center was halted amid embarrassing
conflicts with one of Mayor Daley's proposed new runways.
"You can't build half a house and just walk away from it.
Somebody has to be responsible for that," Chicago Aviation
Commissioner John Roberson said.
"They dug the hole. They should be required to return the
site to its original condition. If we have to fill it
ourselves, we'll look to get those monies back from the
The Chicago Sun-Times reported last spring that City Hall
had permanently halted construction of the complex after an
airspace study conducted by the Federal Aviation
Administration revealed embarrassing conflicts with one of
Daley's proposed runways.
Provided utility poles were lowered, the FAA concluded that
the center would not pose a conflict with O'Hare's existing
runway layout. But, there would be a major conflict with a
proposed runway to be known as 27-Right if the feds approve
Daley's massive O'Hare expansion project, the FAA found.
"They would probably have to demolish part of that facility
because it would be too close to the end of the second or
third runway at the north end," FAA Spokesman Tony Molinaro
Armed with the FAA's ruling, City Hall demanded that
construction "cease and desist" because of nine violations
that city officials insist were unrelated. They range from
failure to furnish evidence of insurance and provide the
city with performance bonds to failure to complete the job
and commence operations by Dec. 26, 2002.
Now, Roberson is maintaining that the FAA's airspace ruling
had nothing to do with the city's edict. He's demanding the
contractor fill the giant hole and return the site to its
"You didn't deliver the project you said you'd deliver when
you said you'd deliver it. We're terminating the project
based on that. We're done with it. We're just not going to
expend any more time and energy on it," Roberson said.
"It was simply a foundation permit. They erected the walls
on their own. When you erect a wall and exceed the scope of
a permit, if I was still building commissioner, I would
have made them tear it down. You know how this stuff goes.
They'll say, 'We've done this. We should be compensated.'
But, I don't think there's anything for us to compensate.
In fact, it's the other way around. They have to make the