Demolitions starting in vacant neighborhood by O'Hare

Posted3/24/2010 12:01 AM

Chicago today will officially start the demolition of a section of what was once Bensenville to make room for O'Hare International Airport.

The city intends to begin razing about 600 homes and businesses in an area close to York and Irving Park roads near northeast Bensenville.


It's a moment that comes after years of bitter feuding between the village and Chicago. Bensenville successfully fought off condemnations with a series of legal challenges but over time, residents started selling their properties.

The fight came to a close about a year ago with the election of new Village President Frank Soto who defeated former leader John Geils, a longtime foe of airport expansion.

Soto said the village lacked the resources to keep fighting Chicago in a losing legal battle and helped negotiate a settlement with the city last November for $16 million.

Part of the deal included safeguards for residents during demolition and the city is also paying for an environmental consultant who will report to Bensenville. Soto said the funds also will compensate the municipality for properties, help replace its reserves and help with economic development

Chicago is in the midst of an ambitious plan to build six parallel runways intended to relieve congestion at O'Hare and a western terminal.

One of those runways is bisected by the St. Johannes Cemetery, whose owners are still engaged in a legal battle with Chicago to keep the graveyard intact.