River Forest advances Lake and Lathrop project

Keystone Ventures submits redevelopment application following extension

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

The proposed mixed-use development at the corner of Lake Street and Lathrop Avenue in River Forest is moving forward with the developer, Keystone Ventures, submitting a long-awaited redevelopment application.

The project, which would bring a five-story, mixed-use building across three lots to the corner of Lake and Lathrop, appeared to be in limbo earlier this year, when village trustees gave Tim Hague, principal of Keystone Ventures, a 90-day extension to submit the development application.

Hague, who was named as the preferred developer of the project in 2010, did not return phone calls requesting an interview.

River Forest Village Administrator Eric Palm told Wednesday Journal that village staff has begun reviewing the application and identified steps to come, including a traffic study and details concerning how the project would be financed.

Keystone, Palm said, did submit a detailed fiscal impact study that projects tax revenue expected from the project, along with costs to the village. "[The fiscal impact study] looks at it from a global perspective and what expenses it generates for the municipality," Palm said.

Palm said it is not unusual for redevelopment applications to be short on details concerning financing.

"That's not, to me, a deal-breaker," he said. "They'll wind up coming into compliance with that."

He said Hague and village staff will meet with officials from the local police and fire departments, among other interested parties, early next year to further discuss the potential impacts the project will have on River Forest.

Details of the application were not immediately available but will be released to the public as the village gets closer to sending the proposal to its Development Review Board, Palm said.

"I'm pleased the development team put forth a good faith effort to try to get this application moved forward," he said, noting that the application assumes construction of the project would begin in the summer of 2018.

"The big caveat to that is they need a letter of no further remediation from the state of Illinois," Palm said.

That's because the three parcels, located at 7613 and 7617 Lake and 423 Ashland, are located on land contaminated by a dry cleaner business that operated for years in the existing building.

The village already has committed $1.9 million in funds from the Lake Street Tax Increment Finance District to clean up the environmental contamination from the dry cleaner. The agreement to use TIF funds has been extended multiple times.

Hague still must purchase the two Lake Street properties. Public documents show the parcel at 423 Lake was purchased by Keystone in September.

River Forest Village President Cathy Adduci noted that the redevelopment application was "not as complete as we would normally like it," but she was encouraged that the long-stalled project was moving forward.

She said the missing information was "not unusual."

The Lake and Lathrop project is not the only development Keystone has planned for the block. Hague and company have been negotiating with the village for several years on another mixed-use project at the corner of Lake Street and Park Avenue.

Adduci, however, said the village has put that project on hold, so Keystone can focus on the Lake and Lathrop development. That project would be built on a village-owned parking lot.

The Lake and Lathrop development is a priority for the village over Lake and Park because of the TIF dollars committed and the added complexity associated with getting approval from environmental regulatory authorities.

"We want to get the more complex project out of the way," she said. "That doesn't take away the desire for Lake and Park."

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

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