BATAVIA – City officials are eagerly awaiting the results of laboratory tests on groundwater samples taken from the One Washington Place downtown redevelopment site.
More than a year ago the city discovered that the property’s soil is contaminated with lead and has been working with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency ever since on a cleanup plan.
The IEPA has given tentative approval for the city’s formal Remediation Action Plan, but ordered the groundwater tests before granting final approval and allowing the cleanup to proceed.
The city’s environmental consulting firm, Oak Brook-based Huff & Huff, drilled six monitoring wells on the site and obtained water samples from three of these, said Batavia Public Works Director Gary Holm.
The laboratory test results, for lead and other contaminants, are expected this week, Holm said. He added that Huff & Huff believes the tests will be negative.
If so, that will eliminate a major obstacle to approval of the cleanup plan and set the stage for the start of construction next spring on the $50 million mixed-use redevelopment project.
One Washington Place is designed to be a six-level building with 190 apartments, 343 parking spaces and 5,725 square feet of commercial space, covering most of the city block bounded by North Washington Avenue, State Street, North River Street and East Wilson Street.
The city of Batavia has an agreement with Geneva-based Shodeen Construction to build the project. The city will hand over the site to the developer, and issue $16 million in bonds to finance the two-level parking garage.
Soil borings conducted in April of 2018 revealed lead concentrations exceeding acceptable limits on the north side of the site along State Street, both under the existing city parking garage and up the hill to the east.
Shodeen is waiting for the city to gain approval for the site cleanup before commissioning construction drawings and seeking bids.
The soil cleanup work and construction will proceed simultaneously on the sprawling site.
It is estimated that about 10,000 cubic yard of contaminated soil filling hundreds of trucks will need to be removed from the site and hauled to a special landfill.
“To construct the garage, virtually the entire site needs to be excavated,” Holm said.
The cost of the cleanup is estimated at between $395,000 and $590,000, but the city will be able to reimburse itself from the tax-increment financing district that the city created for the project.
Under an agreement approved by the Batavia City Council earlier this year, the city will reimburse Shodeen for the cleanup work performed by the construction firm.
The city will have an independent representative at the site to ensure the work is properly performed and billed, yet also will indemnify Shodeen in the future against the cost of any residual contamination deemed to have been present before the work started.
Once started, construction of the project will take about two years.
When the project is complete, the city will take ownership of the parking garage and the bonds will be repaid from the TIF district.