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Steel site leveled, ready for new industry

Hennepin mayor hopes for development, jobs

One of the only buildings that stands from the former Hennepin Steel Mill site is the gatehouse. Industrial dump trucks crossed the entrance road (in background). The former still mill is gone and 853 acres of land, zoned industrial, with river, rail, electricity and interstate highway access, and a water tower, are awaiting development.
One of the only buildings that stands from the former Hennepin Steel Mill site is the gatehouse. Industrial dump trucks crossed the entrance road (in background). The former still mill is gone and 853 acres of land, zoned industrial, with river, rail, electricity and interstate highway access, and a water tower, are awaiting development.

HENNEPIN — With more than 1 million square feet of the former steel mill at Hennepin demolished and hauled away, the land that’s left is zoned and ready for just about any type of industrial development.

That’s the word from North Central Illinois Economic Development Corp., Illinois Valley Area Chamber of Commerce and Hennepin Mayor Kevin Coleman.

Coleman said he recently was granted entrance to the site of the former LTV and Arcelor Mittal rolled-steel plant on the north side of Hennepin. He said he recently took a ride around much of the 853 acres with president Mike Kirchoff and administrative manager Gina Czubachowski from NCIEDC and was impressed by what’s gone as well as all of the facilities that remain in place to make the site attractive for industrial development.

“It’s ready for somebody to come in to build something,” Coleman said.

He said it should be attractive for a major development but also could be subdivided.

Coleman said he worked at the plant many years ago and didn’t remember the complete layout of the plant. He said the maintenance shop still is standing and he believes it is being rented out and there’s another building that still could be of use. He said there’s plenty of electricity readily available and other infrastructure, including access to railroad, the Illinois River and Interstate 180.

He said the scale house and scale still are in place, and when they drove onto it, numbers showed the vehicle weight.

Illinois Valley Area Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development executive director Joni Hunt said a web page for the Hennepin site had 5,000 visits in 2019.

For a few years after the 2009 closing that included the loss of about 300 jobs, and then the 2014 sale and gradual scrapping of the steel plant contents, there was hope an industrial developer would purchase and use the buildings.

But when the site had buildings standing, and after owners disabled its steel rolling mill, the buildings were attractive only to certain types of industry. And an investor still would have needed to retrofit them.

IVAC, NCIEDC and government leaders have been working to attract investment and jobs for several years.

“The truth of the matter is the steel site has always been marketed,” Hunt said. “It is one of the most desirable locations in Illinois.”

Hunt said the site’s access to interstate highway, power, the Illinois River and railroad should make it more attractive than most in the state.

She said a buyer would have an edge over competitors in that they can ship through various modes of transportation.

“The land can be used for multiple different industrial purposes. If the owner desired, they could subdivide the property.” Hunt noted.

IVAC is always ready to “put together a competitive package” and respond to requests for information about business and industrial sites, whether at Hennepin or anywhere in the La Salle, Bureau and Putnam county area.

“We want job creation,” Hunt said.

Craig Sterrett can be reached at (815) 220-6935 or csterrett@shawmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_NewsEditor.

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