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Batavia works on soil cleanup plan to ready for Shodeen project

City takes more soil borings at One Washington Place downtown redevelopment site

The soil under the One Washington Place downtown redevelopment site is contaminated with lead along State Street (shown), home to the existing city parking garage (right), which would be demolished.
The soil under the One Washington Place downtown redevelopment site is contaminated with lead along State Street (shown), home to the existing city parking garage (right), which would be demolished.

BATAVIA – The city staff of Batavia is formulating a plan to clean up the One Washington Place downtown redevelopment site, which is contaminated by lead.

New soil borings were conducted 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.

Completion of the remediation work will be critical before construction can begin on the major redevelopment project that has 190 apartments, a 343-space public parking garage and 5,725 square feet of commercial space.

“We’re still hoping for a groundbreaking this fall,” Batavia economic development consultant Chris Aiston said.

Soil borings conducted in April revealed that 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.

A subsequent report from 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.

Batavia Public Works Director Gary Holm said the city intends to combine into a single contract both the soil remediation and the remaining demolition work for the site, including razing the existing two-level parking garage.

The city expects to seek bids in mid-July before awarding the contract, with work anticipated to get underway the following month, Holm said.

“That’s what we’re envisioning now,” Holm said.

That will be a tight time frame for Geneva-based Shodeen Construction, the developer for the project.

Shodeen President Dave Patzelt said he has not yet begun construction bid specifications for the project, waiting to make sure that the city is moving ahead on the remediation plan.

“It’s the critical path right now,” Patzelt said.

However, Patzelt said it is still possible for construction work to begin in late October.

Holm said the cost of the remediation plan will depend on 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.

Holm and other city officials note that the contaminated soil will have to be removed to excavate the site for the building foundation and new parking deck, much of which will be below grade on the sloping property.

Previous cost estimates for the soil removal, hauling and waste facility tipping fees have ranged from $350,000 to $1 million.

Aiston said all the demolition and soil remediation costs will be reimbursed from the tax-increment financing district that the city created specifically for the project.

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.

Until then, the fate of the $50 million, six-level building project is not guaranteed.

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.

The development agreement had to be renegotiated, with the city increasing its commitment to $16 million, up $2 million from the previous agreement.

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