On March 8, Sedgwick Development announced that environmental remediation of the Lake Street and Lathrop Avenue site is finally complete and groundbreaking for the four-story mixed-use condominium development will begin in mid-2021.

Sedgwick described the site, previously plagued with contamination from a dry-cleaning facility formerly on the land, as “the most environmentally challenging site in the area.”

According to Sedgwick, the site presented “a stubborn environmental problem” that dated back to the 1920s, when regulations over dry cleaners and other businesses weren’t as strict as today’s oversight requires. The problem, said Sedgwick in its press release, is that the solvents used to clean clothes can cause health risks and “pollution may persist for decades due to these chemicals’ resistance to degradation.”

It’s been 20 years since the first environmental testing was done at 7601-7615 Lake Street, according to Sedgwick. Those tests confirmed the presence of contaminants in the soil in 2001, and in 2004 the site “enrolled into a remediation program with the Illinois EPA.”

But the extent of the contamination wasn’t known until 2005, when further testing was performed, followed by additional testing to look at spread of contamination in 2006 and 2007. 

In 2010, the Illinois EPA accepted the findings of the reports and requested a plan, but all environmental efforts came to a stop in 2010 “due to difficult, time-consuming negotiations and litigation with holdout property owners and vacating tenants who did not want to move,” according to Sedgwick.

In 2019 and 2020 Sedgwick Development worked with Pioneer EES, an environmental engineering firm, to continue evaluation, submitting reports to both the Illinois EPA and the Illinois Drycleaners Environmental Response Trust Fund (DERT). 

In mid-October, chemical concentrations were finally reduced to allowable limits based on Illinois EPA standards. 

“This has been a long journey, but we are delighted the environmental cleanup is complete and look forward to progressing through the next phase of developing a generational asset for the Village of River Forest,” said Mark McKinney, Sedgwick’s operations director. 

Ground-breaking will begin in mid-2021. Preconstruction pricing for the development’s two-, three- and four-bedroom condominiums run from $699,000 to $1.47M.

Sedgwick Development, which deals in both residential and commercial development, was founded by River Forest resident Marty Paris in 1996.

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