‘It’s very difficult to get information from you. Why don’t you communicate with us?” That’s what Erika Bachner, River Forest village trustee, asked the principals of Sedgwick Properties last week in a public meeting.
A more than reasonable question for the failing developers of River Forest’s most notable and most thoroughly botched development project ever.
We won’t go back over the decades of history on the prime parcel at Lake and Lathrop, though Village President Cathy Adduci did bring up soil contamination, an early indicator of the endless woes to come. Damn dry cleaner.
Marty Paris, president of Sedgwick, son of the former village president, Frank Paris, and the non-communicator-in-chief, was thoroughly and rightly basted by Bachner and fellow Trustee Katie Brennan. Neither voted in favor of yet another extension for the project even though this time around that extension comes with actual and notable financial penalties and other demands — fix the sidewalk! The extension passed on a 4-2 vote.
Paris also agreed to provide a construction update at each village board meeting, at least, until certificates of occupancy are issued for the retail and condo project. The most immediate update needed is finding some source of funding for construction. Currently, funding is balled up in a lawsuit brought by a division of Wintrust Bank, the primary lender. At a time when all lending has gotten much more expensive and difficult to earn, Sedgwick’s track record is not compelling.
A majority of the village board and its president turned the screws but still came out on Sedgwick’s side. If the board is serious, if it enforces its demands that permit fees and back taxes get paid pronto and new financing is transparently reported, then, on a very short leash, this project might move ahead.
We are not betting on it. And we’d like to hear more transparency about the village’s fallback plan if Sedgwick fails to move ahead in short order.