March 23, 2007
March 23, 2007 - Chiappetti Veal and Lamb, Chicago's last major slaughterhouse, is looking for a new home. Franco Chiappetti, among the fourth generation of Chiappettis in the business, said the company is pressed by a lack of space - and increasingly surrounded by expensive homes, shops and restaurants rapidly transforming the once-gritty enclave.
"I'm looking out the window at the rooftop of a $500,000, 3-year-old home," Chiappetti said. "We didn't pick a residential area, a residential area picked us."
When the slaughterhouse moves, the old brick buildings likely will be torn down to make way for houses, book stores, restaurants and other businesses, said Franco Chiappetti's father, company President Dennis Chiappetti.
And with that, the neighborhood could lose one of the last reminders of an industry that once was the envy of the world and a symbol of American ingenuity.
Opened in 1865, the Chicago Union Stockyards were the center of a small city of slaughterhouses and packing houses that was the largest meatpacking district in the world. Railroads brought in millions of cattle, sheep and pigs, and the animals then were shipped all over the nation.
Chiappetti went into businesses in the 1920s. The company bought the buildings that comprise its current home in the 1940s and 1960s.
The stockyards closed in 1971, prompting meatpackers big and small to leave. But Chiappetti stayed, and more than three decades later, the 130-employee business slaughters about 3,000 lambs and 400 veal calves a week.
The Chiappettis said they expect to find a new home somewhere in Chicago - perhaps even in an industrial park on part of the old stockyards, but the process could take a year. Reprinted in part from Associated Press