The Village of Riverside has dropped its lawsuit against a local property management company after determining that the company had taken the necessary steps to remediate an environmental concern at one of its commercial properties.
Village Attorney Dean Krone confirmed last week that Riverside was no longer pursuing a suit in Cook County Circuit Court against Reliable Management Co. Inc. and the owner of the Tower Apartment Building, 25 Forest Ave., and that the corner commercial space, the former longtime home of Arcade Antiques, was suitable for occupancy.
According to court records Riverside agreed to dismiss the case on June 20 after a receiving a final report from Hygieneering Inc., an environmental consultant hired to assess the condition of the space. The firm was hired in the wake of a July 10, 2005 incident in which a broken toilet in an apartment above the space flooded the business with water and sewage.
In its first report to the village on Aug. 19, 2005, Hygieneering called the contamination of the business “grossly unsanitary,” and the village demanded in its lawsuit that the conditions be remedied or the management company would face fines of up to $750 per day.
After several months, John Feller, vice president of Hygieneering Inc., reassessed the condition of the commercial space on May 25, 2006 and determined that “remediation activities had already been completed,” including the removal of flooring, general cleaning and repainting. Feller further requested Reliable Management to provide an access port to view the area above the space’s drop-ceiling. After finding no evidence of mold or water staining there, Feller stated that “normal occupancy/renovation activities may commence within the tenant space from a mold/bacteria standpoint.”
Riverside filed its suit against Reliable Management Co. Inc. in February, threatening to fine the property owners $750 per day for each of two alleged violations of village code. However, Krone insisted from the beginning that the village filed the lawsuit as a way to force compliance rather than as a punitive measure against the building owners.
Arcade Antiques never reopened for business at that space after the July 2005 incident. On March 31, the lease expired and, after over 20 years, the owner, Kathleen Snyder, downsized the business and moved it to a space on East Burlington Street. The corner commercial space at 25 Forest Ave. remains vacant.
Riverside’s Chief Building Inspector Robert Caraher said that he knows of no plans to rent the space, but said that there were still some issues, including the age of the building’s plumbing and electrical systems, that may have to be rectified before the space could be occupied.
“The electric is outdated and the plumbing needs to be updated,” Caraher said. “We’ll look at any plans and advise them on what updates need to be required.”
Attempts to reach Reliable Management’s attorney, Colin Lawler, were unsuccessful.