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CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s a momentous day for one of Chicago’s most historic neighborhoods, as Whole Foods breaks ground on a new distribution center in Pullman.


The 140,000-square-foot facility is expected to bring in about 150 jobs to a neighborhood that played a prominent role in the labor movement at the turn of the 20th century, and has become the focus of revival efforts in recent years.


Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), and company officials were on hand to break ground Tuesday morning. The facility, which will replace a distribution center in northwest Indiana, will supply some 70 different Whole Foods stores in the Midwest and Canada.


“To be able to say that we actually got a company from Indiana to come here to the city of Chicago is huge,” Beale said.

Longtime neighborhood resident Dee Smith said the facility is a welcome boon to Pullman.


“So many of the factories have been closed. This will help rejuvenate the economy and hopefully help a lot of people get jobs,” she said.


Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, a nonprofit community development organization, has overseen much of the recent redevelopment in Pullman. CNI


“Over the last five years, we’ve coordinated $130 million of investment here in Pullman,” CNI President David Doig said. “Incomes are up by 16 percent, property values are up by 20 percent, and violent crime is down by almost 50 percent.”


The Whole Foods facility will be built on a 17-acre site owned by a CNI venture, which will prepare the site for a developer to build the center and lease it to Whole Foods.


CNI also handled site prep for a new Whole Foods store in Englewood, scheduled to open in September.

If all goes as planned, the distribution center in Pullman will open in early 2018.

Last year, President Barack Obama declared the Pullman Historic District a national monument, to honor its status as one of the first “company towns” in the U.S. Pullman was home to railroad baron George Pullman’s factory town in the 1880s; he built homes, shopping areas, churches, theaters, a hotel, a library, and other amenities for his workforce at Pullman Palace Car Co.


Since the neighborhood was declared a national monument, more than $220 million worth of development projects have been announced in Pullman.


Four months ago, the Emanuel administration announced plans to assemble 800 new CTA train cars at a new rail plant in the neighborhood.


Beale said it’s exciting CTA cars will be manufactured in the same neighborhood where the famed Pullman sleeper cars were built.


“What better place than to bring it full circle, and start building rail cars again here in the Roseland-Pullman community,” Beale said.


The alderman said the recent revitalization started with Wal-Mart, which opened a store in Pullman in 2013.


“If it wasn’t for the residents of the city of Chicago, who stood up and said ‘We want Wal-Mart in the city, we wouldn’t be here today,” he said.


The Wal-Mart Supercenter in Pullman anchors a large shopping center that also includes a Ross Dress for Less store, a Planet Fitness gym, and a City Sports store. Other new developments in Pullman include a Method soap factory with a Gotham Greens urban farm on its roof.


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