River Forest Village Hall

River Forest Condo Project Stopped

River Forest pulled the plug on the Lake and Lathrop development on a critical Sept. 15 deadline after Sedgwick Properties, the developer, failed to meet the conditions set forth by the village.

River Forest pulled the plug on the Lake and Lathrop development on a critical Sept. 15 deadline, apparently ending years of frustration for village officials and village residents, especially those who live near the development—but resulting in an unknown future for the site.

Sedgwick Properties, the developer, failed to meet the conditions set forth by the village after the building permit for the development at Lake Street and Lathrop Avenue was repealed, and a stop work order was issued, officials said in a news release. Construction activity will not be permitted on the site at this time, they added.

“The Village is disheartened that this private development could not be completed within the 18-month permit timeframe,” said village President Cathy Adduci in a news release. “We are hopeful that the parties can work out their settlement amicably so that progress can be made in this important area of River Forest. As we look ahead, doing site cleanup and repairs is now our first priority.”

In August, officials granted Sedgwick Properties the latest in a string of building permit extensions that would have run through Aug. 30, 2024, had the developer met certain conditions. Those conditions included securing viable financing and providing proof of such financing to the village. Other conditions included resolving pending litigation with Beverly Bank and Trust; paying the village $98,905.32 for the permit extension fee; and paying $21,000 in unpaid property taxes. It is not yet known if any of the conditions were met.

The long-delayed condominium project has been on life support since April when Beverly Bank and Trust, which is financing the development, filed suit against Sedgwick Properties. Through the lawsuit, filed in Cook County court, the Wintrust-affiliated bank is looking to claw back $4.2 million from the $20 million line of credit it issued in 2022. In the lawsuit, the lender has reportedly cited several provisions in its loan agreement with Sedgwick affiliates that were violated, including that the contract required the borrower to stay in compliance with local regulations and to stick to a tighter construction timeline.

Earlier this month, the Cook County Circuit Court reportedly appointed a receiver to manage the Lake and Lathrop property as part of ongoing foreclosure litigation between Sedgwick and Beverly Bank and Trust. Village officials said in the news release they have met with the receiver to discuss the immediate need to improve the condition of the project site and said they will work closely with the receiver to stabilize and secure construction fencing and handle other cleanup in a timely manner.

In the statement, village officials defended their actions over the years.

“As with any approved private development with a public body, the village was required to allow the developer to meet a series of benchmarks per the development agreement, which was initiated in 2018,” they said. “Due to Sedgwick successfully meeting those initial requirements, including remediation of the site, it was awarded an 18-month building permit in February of 2022. Over the last year-and-a-half, Sedgwick has experienced several challenges, including foreclosure litigation, which ultimately have led to a lack of progress, and the revocation of their building permit.”

Village crews are expected to begin repairing disrupted sidewalks on Ashland Avenue and Lathrop Avenue near the construction site beginning Sept. 18. Officials said in the press release that they “remain committed to approving a high-quality development at this prime location and will collaborate with all involved parties to find a resolution in the best interests of River Forest and its residents.”

The project has been on the drawing board since before the village board’s 2016 approval of the proposal by Lake Lathrop Partners LLC to build a four-story, mixed-use development containing 22 condominium units with 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.

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

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