It might look like nothing’s happening on the southwest corner of Lake Street and Lathrop Avenue in River Forest. The future site of a proposed mixed-use condominium project looks pretty much the same as it has for some time now.

But a lot’s going on, including environmental remediation, a slow process that’s not particularly exciting to watch. And Village President Cathy indicated in an email to residents that if all goes according to plan, construction will begin in spring 2021.

“At times during the environmental cleanup process, it may appear that there is minimal actual site activity,” said Sedgwick Properties, the developer of the proposed project, in a Sept. 10 press release. “However, there is significant work going on behind the scenes with the numerous moving parts associated with the site work progression. Environmental remediation is a long, tedious process involving several rounds of testing, approvals, treatment and coordination with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA).”

According to the developer, the site has been plagued with soil contamination for decades, dating back to a dry-cleaning facility located on the premises for decades starting in the 1920s. 

Sedgwick has contracted with Pioneer Engineering and Environmental Services, an environmental consultant, to oversee the soil remediation. Pioneer has “conducted extensive site testing in order to determine a more exacting level of detail for the extensive environmental cleanup required,” according to Sedgwick.

Earlier this year, Pioneer submitted a site investigation, remediation objectives, and remediation plan report to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), the first step in cleaning the site prior to construction.

The IEPA approved the plan, but Pioneer needed to do additional testing of groundwater and soil to “further define the scope of work and extent of the treatment zone.” This began in June, after foundation demolition and site cleanup were completed, and Pioneer conducted additional pre-remediation soil and groundwater testing to further define the scope of work and extent of the treatment zone. 

In the last week of July, soil remediation began, starting with the application of an industry standard treatment solution at injection points throughout the site. The solution is allowed to cure, after which soil and soil gas samples are collected for analysis.

Samples were collected in late August, and once analyzed, a second phase of soil treatment, similar to the first, is planned. The IEPA will need to approve Phase II as well. The end goal is achieving a “No Further Remediation” (NFR) determination by the IEPA, meaning the site is “clean” and construction of the project can commence.

In a Sept. 4 email to residents, Adduci provided an update on the Lake and Lathrop project, stating that the developer had submitted all necessary documents to the village, including building, structural, stormwater and civil engineering plans. 

“These items are currently under review by the village and its third-party consultants, and once signed off by our village staff, a building permit will be issued to the developer to begin construction,” Adduci wrote. She added that including the environmental remediation, the need for IEPA approval, and ComEd’s moving of electrical wiring underground, the village anticipates spring 2021 construction.

Sedgwick said the condos offered will be a combination of two-, three- and four-bedroom units, providing “opportunities for local residents looking to downsize as well as newcomers interested in joining the River Forest community.” Each unit will have two-car parking, direct access with a private elevator, and 10-foot ceilings. Pre-construction pricing runs from $629,900 to $1,474,900. 

More information from the developer can be found at rf-lakestreet.com, and from the village at vrf.us/LakeAndLathrop.

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