On the near west side of Chicago, an abandoned contaminated property has recently been cleaned up and put into progressive reuse as Vertiport Chicago, a helicopter airport. Previous uses of the site included a garage (with two USTs), dry cleaner, and transportation company (with two USTs). The property had been vacant since at least 2005 and was overgrown with weeds. Illegal dumping had occurred on the northeastern and eastern parts of the land. Extensive subsurface investigation work found that the site was contaminated with lead, arsenic, and PNAs (Polynuclear Aromatic Hydrocarbons).
The airport developer worked with their environmental consultant and the Illinois EPA to determine a cost-effective solution to this contamination. Instead of requiring the expensive removal of this contaminated soil, IEPA agreed to an industrial/commercial use restriction and a groundwater use restriction. In addition, the property owner must maintain engineered barriers across the site including a concrete building foundation, a concrete parking lot, concrete vertiport, and alternative engineered barriers with new clean topsoil in the landscaped areas and the detention basin.
Vertiport Chicago has been operating since May 2015. Its clients include emergency medical services helicopters for the nearby medical district who are able to land without landing fees, as well as more profitable clients such as DHL and corporate CEOs who ferry in documents and executive staff from O’Hare to downtown in a matter of minutes – no matter what the traffic is on the Kennedy Expressway.