Skokie residents debate proposed glass tower of cars that critics say would kill migratory birds

A very vocal group of bird advocates were at Skokie Village Hall Monday night, hoping to dissuade the Board of Trustees from allowing Carvana to build a nearly 140-foot glass tower to display cars, right next to a beloved forest preserve.

The bird advocates say the tower will kill thousands of migratory birds each year, while Carvana maintains its plans go above and beyond to mitigate the threat to birds.

"There's 1000 reasons to oppose this tower. It doesn't belong there. It's going to kill thousands of birds. It's a protected area," said Kim Polka, a Skokie resident who started a petition to stop the tower, which has garnered more than 6800 signatures.

Carvana — the online used car dealer — wants to put one of its signature 134-foot glass car-towers directly next to Harms Woods, a major thoroughfare for migratory birds. Bird advocates call a lit-up glass box in that location "a recipe for a bird-killing structure."

"This tower is built in the middle of a green space that millions of birds use every year in the spring and fall," said Annette Prince, Director of Chicago Bird Collision Monitors.

But Carvana has agreed to turn off the tower's lights between the hours of 1 a.m. and sunrise, and to wrap the bottom 54-feet of the tower in a film which will make the glass visible to birds.

"When you look at our tower on that development pad and what options could be built there, with our mitigation and with what we're building, we would like to argue that this is going to be the safest building along Harms Woods," Carvana's Bret Sassenberg told the Skokie Plan Commission on January 6th.


Monday's board meeting was packed to capacity with opponents of the tower. At 8:30 p.m., Skokie Mayor George Van Dusen tried to set a cordial tone for a long night of heated debate.

"In the end, all of us want the same thing: what is best for the Village of Skokie," said Van Dusen. "Whatever the final decision tonight, we want to ensure that everyone was afforded a fair opportunity to present themselves."

Stay tuned to FOX 32 for updates on the vote.