While some neighbors of the long-delayed and now stymied condominium development at Lake and Lathrop in River Forest were heartened that the village government pulled the project’s building permits Sept. 15, Marty Paris, the principal developer, told Crain’s on Monday that he remains confident he will complete the project.
The 22-unit mixed use condo project has gone through multiple incarnations and developers and endless delays that have stretched well over a decade. Since spring Beverly Bank and Trust, a unit of Wintrust, has been in court seeking through foreclosure to claw back a portion of the funds it advanced for the development project. Earlier this month a Cook County court appointed a receiver to manage the property.
River Forest’s village board had told Sedgwick Properties, Paris’ company, that it had until Sept. 15 to secure financing for the project or lose its construction permits. When the receiver was appointed, the village pulled the permits and, according to Crain’s, opened communications with the receiver. Cleaning up the periphery of the site – construction fencing, cracked sidewalks — was the village’s first expectation of the receiver.
Phyllis Rubin, a frequent critic of the Lake and Lathrop project developer, said Monday she was not surprised that the developer failed to meet conditions set forth by the village.
Rubin, who lives kitty-corner from the development site, said her opinion is based on the past behavior of Sedgwick Properties.
“We’ve been complaining all along,” she said referring to herself and some other village residents, many of whom live in her condominium building. “We have experienced their indifference to us, their neighbors.”
Louise Mezzatesta, another neighboring critic, was pleased the village followed through and pulled the permits. She feared further extensions would be granted. Her concern now is what happens next.
“The trouble is that we’re stuck now without a good solution,” said Mezzatesta. “Now we have partial construction which is very unsightly and dangerous to boot.”
The Sept. 15 conditions included securing viable financing and providing proof of such financing to the village; 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 known if any of those conditions were met.
The long-delayed condominium project has been on life support since April when the bank 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.
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 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.
“It’s a terrible situation,” Rubin said. “That’s a prime piece of land in River Forest.”