Chicago's Blommer chocolate factory closing

After 85 years of chocolate production, Blommer Chocolate Company has announced its decision to close its Chicago manufacturing facility.

The company said in a statement Friday that the factory's age along with increased repair and maintenance costs created product reliability issues, and contributed to the decision. The facility, located at 600 W. Kinzie St. in the city's Fulton River District neighborhood, opened its doors as Blommer's original manufacturing plant in 1939.

"It was an incredibly challenging yet inevitable decision to close the Chicago plant," Blommer Chief Operating Officer Mark Okita said in the statement. "However, in order to propel Blommer to the next level, we must embrace progress, transformation and elevation."

(Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

The company's corporate headquarters and research and development center will remain at the Merchandise Mart in downtown Chicago, according to the statement.

Japanese ingredient company Fuji Oil Holdings, which bought Blommer Chocolate Company in 2018, said it plans to invest in a new research and development center at the Merchandise Mart. The R&D center is expected to debut this fall.

Blommer said it plans to invest $100 million in its three remaining manufacturing facilities in East Greenville, Pa., Union City, Calif., and Campbellford, Ontario, over the next few years, the statement said.

Signage and window vents are seen at the Blommer Chocolate Company in Chicago, Illinois. (Tim Boyle/Getty Images / Getty Images)

"Our planned expansion to the Campbellford Canada operation is the next step toward our transformation," Okita said. "This marks a new chapter for us as Blommer, as well as our customers. It is imperative that we challenge ourselves aggressively to ensure that this becomes the best chapter yet."

It's unclear yet what will become of the 5.5-acre property the manufacturing plant currently occupies.

Blommer is the largest cocoa processor in North America and has more than 900 employees, according to the company.