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November 14th, 2014

Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Spotlight: City Directories

During the course of a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ASTM E1527-13), Gabriel reviews historical research from several sources to help determine  the previous use of the subject property and neighboring properties.  Some of the key historical documents we reference when conducting a Phase I are the city directory listings.

Polk City Directory 1923

These city directories list all known occupants of each street address for a certain address range, searching back to when city directories were first produced in that particular community. By reviewing an address range that includes the subject property and adjoining properties, we can get a more complete picture of what businesses were previously located at the subject site itself and nearby sites.  For corner properties, we review city directories along both roadways because historically the properties could be addressed as either street.

Some of the city directories that we review include R. L. Polk & Co., Illinois Bell Telephone, the Reuben H. Donnelley Corporation, Cole Information Services, and the Haines Company, Inc.

Case Study

Recently, Gabriel was hired to conduct a Phase I on a strip mall with a known former dry cleaner.  A previous Phase I, conducted by another firm, had discovered this former cleaning operation because it was listed as a Small Quantity Generator with the Illinois EPA.  When reviewing the city directories, Gabriel learned that this dry cleaner had moved within the shopping center in the 1980s, which meant that there were two storefronts that could have been affected by the dry cleaning chemicals.  A previous Phase II had shown contamination in the area of the known dry cleaner, so there is a good probability that the previous storefront with the dry cleaning operation also has contamination due to similar chemical usage and housekeeping practices.

If you have questions about how Gabriel uses city directories in our Phase I research, contact Natalie Neuman, Group Leader Assessment Services, at 773-486-2123 or nneuman[at]gabenv.com.