Why not expand?: The ornamental fencing for the fountains at Navy Pier Crystal Gardens made by Why Not Iron in West Garfield Park. | Photo courtesy of Why Not Iron

Why Not Iron, a West Garfield park-based iron fencing and railings maker, got more room to expand after the Chicago City Council approved its bid to purchase some nearby city-owned vacant land. 

The lots in question are located along Caroll Avenue, between Kildare and Kostner Avenues. Late last year, Robert’s Sheet Metal Works Inc., which is located directly north of the land, at 4347 W. Kinzie St., offered to buy the land for its appraised value. But Why Not Iron, which is located further northwest, at 4425 West Kinzie St., offered to buy it for a higher price. The City Council approved the sale during its July 25 meeting.

According to the ordinance, the land includes the lots at on the north side of Carroll Avenue at 4300 W. Carroll Ave, 4306-14 W. Carroll Ave and eastward 17 feet of 4302 West Carroll Avenue. All of the lots in question are vacant.

Frank Czarkowski, owner of Robert’s Sheet Metal Works Inc. container manufacturer, offered to buy the lots for their appraised market value of $43,000. In keeping with standard procedure, the city invited other interested parties to submit alternative proposals. In response, Why Not Iron submitted a higher bid of $50,000. 

Launched in 1989, the company makes fences, railings, stairs and custom architectural designs. The company is responsible for several high-profile projects, including ornamental fencing for the fountains at Navy Pier Crystal Gardens. 

In May, Why Not Iron received a county tax break to help it cover the costs of renovating its existing facility and building a new facility a few blocks east, at 4217-19 W Kinzie Street. At the time, the company expected that this project would bring in a total of 22 permanent jobs and 10 construction jobs. 

The sale cleared the Chicago Plan Commission on June 21 and went before the Chicago City Council’s Committee on Housing & Real Estate on July 23. At the time, Efrain Hernandez-Diaz, the coordinator of special projects at the Chicago Department of Planning and Development’s Office of Community Development, said that his department evaluated Why Not Iron’s Proposal and found it to be in the best interest of the city.

The ordinance specified that the space must be “improved as industrial open space” within six months of the date of the deed. Otherwise, the land would revert to the city. 

The documents don’t specify what kind of use that would be, but the open industrial uses can include storage of the company’s equipment and materials, scrap metal processing, recycling and processing of debris.

Why Not Iron’s co-owner Sean Kelly did not respond to calls and e-mails seeking comment.

CONTACT: igorst3@hotmail.com    

Igor Studenkov is a winner of multiple Illinois Press Association awards for local government and business reporting. He has been contributing to Austin Weekly News since 2015. His work has also appeared...