Shuttered Pilsen Power Plant Coming Back As Data Center and More

We’re learning more about the future plans for Fisk, the former coal-powered power station that closed five years ago.

The Fisk Generating Station when it was still operational in 2011

The Fisk Generating Station when it was still operational in 2011

Chicago Edison opened the Fisk Street Generating Station in 1903. At five megawatts it had the most powerful steam turbine the world had ever seen and was hailed as a marvel of technology for years to come.  Others hated the plant and blamed it for numerous health problems in the surrounding neighborhood.

Now the facility is entering a new stage in its life. Houston’s NRG, through its Midwest Generation subsidiary, is asking the city for permission to turn the property into a data and industrial center.

The project is environed as a three-story building facing Cermak Road (309,000 square feet), and another three-story building behind (730,000 square feet), both surrounded by a six-foot-tall chain link fence topped with “wire.”  The flavor of wire (barbed, razor, something else?) is not specified.

In diagrams filed with the city, there is no sign of the original power plant, so we may be in for a good old-fashioned chimney implosion.

Fisk Generating Station as seen by Apple Maps

Fisk Generating Station as seen by Apple Maps

And in case you thought that Chicago’s days as a maritime shipping hub were over, there is a plan for this facility to include one, possibly two “barge transloading & fleeting” areas, and a “barge outlot.”  So there is zero chance of this becoming Pilsen’s riverwalk.

  • Developer: HRE Fisk, LLC
  • For realsies: Midwest Generation
  • For realsies realsies: NRG
  • Address: 1111 West Cermak Road
  • Size: 966,930 square feet
  • Maximum floor area ratio: 1.5
  • Total square feet (three subareas): 1,019,304 square feet
  • Loading docks: 85
  • Maximum automobile parking: 671 spaces
  • Minimum bicycle parking: 25 spaces
  • Maximum height (the buildings, not the smokestack): 70 feet


  • The power station was called “Fisk Street Station” because it was built on Fisk Street, since renamed Carpenter Street.
  • The stretch of street that originally ran past the power plant has since been erased, but is still shown on modern property maps as Fisk Street.
  • The power plant was originally surrounded on three sides by water: Allen’s Canal to the west, the Chicago River to the south, and Mason’s Canal to the east.  There were bridges carrying Lumber Street across both canals.
  • To the west of Allen’s Canal was Throops Canal, which aligned with Allport Street, not Throop Street, one block to the west.

Location: 1111 West Cermak Road, Pilsen

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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