July 11th, 2017 3:58 PM
By Thomas Vogel
The River Forest Village Board at its July 10 meeting amended a redevelopment agreement — for the third time — to revamp a string of buildings on the southwest corner of Lake Street and Lathrop Avenue.
The amendment comes as Village Administrator Eric Palm said the site's developer, Lake and Lathrop Partnership LLC, has reached a deal for the final, independently-owned property at the site, 7617 Lake St., owned by Ali ElSaffar. No contract has been signed, Palm said, but he confirmed terms of sale have been reached.
The new agreement reconfigures several deadlines for plan submissions and meetings with village commissions as part of the development process and commits the village to covering $40,000 of an insurance policy as part of the deal. Palm said the 7617 Lake St. property should be under contract by July 15.
"We've blown through some of those deadlines," Palm said. "We need to re-establish those deadlines so we can sign it and then proceed to pay out for the last remaining property."
As reported by Wednesday Journal, contaminated soil was found underneath longtime business River Forest Cleaners, 7602 Lake St., and also includes ElSaffar's property. He has long wanted assurances in any deal that he would not be held liable for any issues resulting from that contamination.
The village first reached a deal with Tim Hague, of Keystone Ventures, to develop the property in 2010. Lake and Lathrop LLC, a partnership between Keystone Ventures and Sedgwick Partners, has been working to acquire a slew of lots at the site for years. Hague has missed several deadlines as part of the long-running process and the village board has granted several extensions and issued at least one default letter.
"At this point, given all the extensions, I'd like to start seeing some penalty provisions to spur the developer to actually develop," Trustee Thomas Cargie said. "At some point, we have to put our foot down. ... I've always had issue with this agreement."
At least one other trustee was more cautious.
"I know we've bent over backwards to try and establish a good working relationship," Trustee Carmela Corsini said. "I'm just not sure starting to impose fines is going to get us to move any closer."
As reported by Wednesday Journal, the village has also pledged $1.9 million in TIF funds to help with development, including environment contamination cleanup.
ElSaffar declined comment in a July 10 email to Wednesday Journal.
A call to Tim Hague, of Keystone Ventures, was not returned by press time.
To view the full print edition of the Wednesday Journal 2017 Answer Book, please click here.
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