BATAVIA – Construction for the One Washington Place downtown redevelopment project will not get underway until next year.
The discovery earlier this year that the site is contaminated by lead has delayed the start of work on the mixed-use development while Batavia city staff formulates a cleanup plan.
“We’re making progress, but we’re not there yet,” Batavia Public Works Director Gary Holm said.
Geneva-based Shodeen Construction President Dave Patzelt said he is waiting for the city to complete its cleanup plan and get approval from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency before he gives his architects the go-ahead to begin work on construction drawings.
Soil borings conducted during April revealed lead concentrations exceeding acceptable limits are present on the north side of the site along State Street, under the existing city parking garage and up the hill to the east.
Additional probes were made early in June to determine the extent of the problem and the volume of material that will have to go to a special waste facility.
Oak Brook-based environmental engineering firm Huff & Huff estimated that about 10,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil filling hundreds of dump trucks will need to be removed from the site.
The $50 million, six-level One Washington Place will cover most of a city block and consist of 190 apartments, a 343-space public parking garage and 5,725 square feet of commercial space along North River Street.
Construction drawings and bid documents will take about three months to produce, Patzelt said. Another month will have to be allowed for the city to review the drawings and issue permits, he said, and two more months to complete the bidding process.
That means even if the city completes its plans and gains IEPA approval in the next few weeks, construction still could not conceivably get started until March 2019, at the earliest.
It is estimated that completing the ambitious project, once construction begins, will take about two years.
Hopes that construction might have begun in October have been dashed by the longer-than-expected soil cleanup planning, which has proved to be complex.
Initially, the city intended to combine the soil remediation and the remaining demolition work for the site, including the two-level parking garage, into a single contract. That no longer appears certain.
The city had expected to be in a position to seek bids in mid-July before awarding the contract and to see the work get started in August, but that did not happen.
The key to the remediation plan will be determining how much material will have to go to a special waste facility, which will be more expensive, and the volume of clean fill and demolition debris that can go to ordinary landfills.
Previous cost estimates for the soil removal, hauling and special waste facility tipping fees have ranged from $350,000 to $1 million.
All of the demolition and soil remediation costs will be reimbursed from the tax increment financing district the city created specifically for the project, Holm said.
Under its redevelopment agreement with Shodeen, the city will hand over to the developer most of a city block bounded by North Washington Avenue and East Wilson, North River and State streets.
The soil contamination problem represents the second major delay for the project, which was first proposed more than two years ago.
The project nearly fell apart last year when construction bids came in $6 million to $8 million higher than expected because Shodeen had underestimated the cost of building the parking garage.
A year was lost as the city and Shodeen renegotiated the development agreement, with the city increasing its commitment to $16 million, up $2 million from the previous agreement.