Woodstock closer to housing development at former Die Cast site

Environmental testing will determine if remediation is necessary for development

A rendering shows the Central Station apartment complex proposed by Elgin-based Pancor Construction and Development for the former Die Cast site in Woodstock.

Housing construction is closer to starting on Woodstock’s former Die Cast site after city officials this month approved a contract to fund more soil testing on the property.

The test is to better determine whether environmental remediation work is needed with any new development.

The city-owned land north of the Woodstock Metra station has been considered by Pancor Construction and Development for a 116-unit residential project, the design details of which were discussed again with the city’s Plan Commission in March.

Its completion would satisfy a city goal of bringing more dwellings to the downtown area in a spot that has been vacant since the Great Recession scuttled previous housing plans on the site. The site had been some to several manufacturing uses in the decades prior to the 1990s.

City officials are making sure nothing on the site still needs to be cleaned up in terms of contamination left by manufacturers.

Sampling this spring revealed the potential need for barriers to be installed on the site to align with regulations that have been updated since the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency found the site required no further remediation 16 years ago.

The city this month approved a $12,960 contract with the firm Environmental Consulting Group to take additional soil samples to confirm what size an additional barrier would need to be in order to ensure compliance with current environmental standards.

“The sample results show two areas of the site that will require some type of engineered barrier that were not required as part of the original ‘no further remediation’ letter,” Environmental Consulting Group wrote in an email to city officials. “In order to define these areas a little better, thus limiting the area needed for the engineered barrier, we may want to drill some more borings at the site.”

Woodstock used public funding from tax increment financing, or TIF, district to pay for building demolitions and the clearance of environmental contamination left behind by manufacturers.

When the city acquired the Die Cast site from Wintrust Bank after a previous developer failed to bring housing plans to fruition on the site, the financial institution agreed to pay one half of the cost to update the state’s finding of no further remediation being needed, up to a maximum of $25,000, which has already been reached.

That means the city is funding the entirety of the latest soil boring contract with Environmental Consulting Group, which does not include the costs to install the barrier suspected to be needed.

The areas of concern are both in the northern portion of the site, near the corner of First and Clay streets, according to city staff.

“The additional work to be performed should not have any impact on the first phases of the proposed Central Station development, which would be located adjacent to Newell Street,” city staff said in a memo. “Updating this ‘no further remediation’ [finding by the state] is an important evaluation step for the city, as the current land owner, before entering into any future agreement to sell or donate any portion of this land to a developer.”