Work in progress at Lake & Lathrop condominium construction project in River Forest on Monday April 24, 2023 | Todd A. Bannor

One year after ground was broken for the Lake and Lathrop project in River Forest, officials with the project claim the development is moving forward while some residents are expressing concerns about a perceived lack of progress.

Whether writing letters to the editor to Wednesday Journal or speaking during the citizen comments portion of village board meetings, some residents, including those who reside in nearby condominium buildings, assert that little or no work is being done at the site.

Mark McKinney, project manager for Sedgwick Properties, a partner in Lake Lathrop Partners, admitted the project “got off to a slow start” but claimed the developer is making “consistent progress.”

The project has been on the drawing board since before the village board approved, in 2016, the proposal by Lake Lathrop Partners LLC to build a four-story, mixed-use development containing 22 condominium units and 14,000 square feet of retail space. Variations on the same project had lurched and lingered for a decade previously. The original project included another story and eight more units but was scaled back.

“We’re still on our timeline,” McKinney said, although he admitted construction will not be complete when the permit that was issued in February 2022 expires in August. 

“The extension request will be made in a timely manner prior to the expiration date,” he said, adding that they are “staying in touch” with village officials. He said the target date for completion is now summer of 2024. 

Cory Robertson, director of developer services for Jameson Sotheby’s International Realty, real estate agent for the residential project, said the perception of a lack of progress could be due to the fact that most of the work on site so far has been underground.

“Between the underground work and the 6-foot fence around the site, there’s not much visible,” he said. “It’s hard to get excited about it.”

Work in progress at Lake & Lathrop condominium construction project in River Forest on Monday April 24, 2023 | Todd A. Bannor

According to Robertson, sales of the project’s residential units indicate buyers are not concerned about a perceived lack of progress.

“We’ve had crazy and repeated success,” he said. “The market acceptance was immediate.”

“We were trying to do something different, offering a condominium option to River Forest and Oak Park. Every week we receive inquiries for units costing over $1 million. We never expected interest in a higher number like that.”

Robertson said condominium prices in River Forest had never surpassed $600,000 previously.

“We’re being pushed by people coming to our door and asking if we have anything bigger,” he said, noting that they are finalizing two new designs and have just three units still unsold. 

On the retail side, McKinney said there has been “a lot of local interest” with multiple letters of intent but no signed contracts so far, which he said is not uncommon this far out from completion.

Noting that retail operations currently on Lake Street are primarily grocery stores and service-related businesses, McKinney said they are hoping to “liven the street back up” with at least one restaurant.

“We’re pushing hard on it and getting within striking distance,” he said. “We’ve got a very good marketing team and leasing team. It’s just a matter of aligning the moons.”

According to the latest monthly update on the project on the village website, the developer has submitted revised plans this month for the detention system slab on the southwest corner of the property and village staff members are reviewing them. 

The project has experienced a series of delays over the years, including environmental cleanup from a dry cleaner formerly on the site and a lawsuit involving a tenant who did not want to leave.

“I’ve never seen delays like this,” Robertson said. “We hit every branch on the delay tree. But our customers have stuck with us.”

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