Case Study 1 – Surveying a GAP Parcel

THE CHALLENGE: Records conflict with an old personal agreement, potentially threatening a project to turn farmland into high-end retail

The owner of a 150-acre farm with 3,700 feet of frontage along Route 34 in Oswego wanted to develop a high-quality retail/commercial development. He wanted to be the first developer to offer prime retail sites in this key east-side location of Oswego. Time was absolutely critical.
Compass’ ALTA survey disclosed a 50-foot gap between the record title line and the ancient farm fence along the western boundary of the land. Both the owner and the adjoining land owner have honored the fence line as the division line for more than 50 years and agreed that the fence line was the true line. This created a cloud on title, impacting the marketable title.
THE SOLUTION: Accurate surveys, detailed records search, and coordination among all involved professionals and land owners

Compass’ first step was to help our client resolve the gap issue. In addition to documenting the testimony of the adjoining owner, Compass’ detailed search of the recorder’s office disclosed a recorded plat of survey from 1942 that recognized the fence as the boundary line. In addition, monuments called for on the 65-year-old plat were still in place along the ancient fence. Since this record document was not raised in the title commitment, Compass met with the title company to deliver all evidence supporting the ancient fence as the true boundary line. Compass prepared a new legal description for the gap parcel and helped the real estate attorney and title company draft and execute the proper documentation to eliminate the land ownership conflict.
Once the conflict was resolved, Compass performed all surveys and coordinated related matters with the attorney, client, engineer and planner for the overall site as well as individual developments at the location. In addition, we reacted quickly to comments and direction from the client and municipal review officials, helping ensure timely development.

Case Study 2 – Surveying Property with no Legal Access

THE CHALLENGE: Forgotten “gap” parcels separate land from perimeter road, hurting the value of land offered for sale.

Downers Grove High School District 99 purchased a 44-acre tract of land in 1972 for a future high school site without the benefit of a land survey. In 2005, the district decided to sell the land. The land’s highest value was for its development potential, but that was threatened because, as Compass uncovered, a forgotten 10-foot-wide strip of land prohibited legal access to the dedicated roadway.

THE SOLUTION: Research, fact-finding and land boundary expertise

Compass went well beyond the traditional work of a surveyor. We began by researching prior surveys, historical maps, title commitments and dedication plats of adjoining roadways. We discovered the existence of “gap” parcels (10 to 15 feet wide) deliberately created and shown on 1972 roadway dedication documents. Through further research, Compass identified the owner of the “gap” parcels as a Chicago Title Insurance trust.
We prepared redlined copies of all documents and identified the suspected owner of the gap parcels, a trust number, and approximate year the gaps were created, and forwarded that information to the title company and real estate attorney. Since the trust had been closed, no land was thought to have been left in the trust. However, title to the problem gap parcels was still vested in the trust.

Compass helped both the title company and attorney by preparing new legal descriptions for the proper conveyance documents, giving the school district “free and clear” ownership of the gap parcels, eliminating the access issue to the dedicated road and maximizing the land’s development potential and value.

THE BENEFITS: Client avoided potential costly litigation and time delays by using Compass

By going above and beyond the service of other surveyors, Compass identified problem issues, conducted the in-depth research that uncovered mistakes that had occurred in the past, and provided solutions for correcting those mistakes to the satisfaction of all other professionals involved in the process.
In addition, because of Compass’ strong relationships with all affected parties and the company’s ability to work with all professionals involved in land boundary issues, Compass saved the school district:

  • the time and money it would have cost to litigate a solution in court
  • the expense and energy associated with hiring additional consultants to protect everyone’s interests
  • the time and resources the district would have spent identifying the problem itself or finding someone else to identify and resolve the problem

Case Study 3 – Surveying an iconic House of Worship

THE CHALLENGE: To survey and preserve the integrity of an architectural gem and religious landmark

The Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette, Ill., was the first pre-cast paneled concreted building in the world. It took 30 years to build the 20-story structure, which was completed in 1953. The nine-sided temple is surrounded by terraces, stairs and walks, and nine gardens, with fountains, reflecting pools and beautiful and varied landscaped areas. In addition to being on the National Register of Historic Places and a prominent Chicago-area landmark, the Baha’i temple was also recently named as one of the seven wonders of Illinois.
Compass was entrusted with the site surveying for the temple’s $30 million restoration, a project that required extraordinary care, detail and accuracy.

THE SOLUTION: Detailed and accurate survey work, responsiveness, and committed professionals

Compass’ first task was to provide an extremely detailed topographic survey of the existing site conditions. Of particular importance was the location of all existing vegetation and landscaping of nine garden areas. In addition to locating and mapping visible improvements such as walks, paths, stairs and drainage structures, Compass located and mapped individual plants shrubs, and bushes. The edged grass lines demarcating areas between dirt, mulch, sod and landscaping were also located and mapped. Individual major trees were located and mapped along with all individual shrubs and plantings. All survey data was formatted to incorporate the landscape architecture information relating to species, size and condition of existing plant material.
Compass’ next task was to establish building survey control for the demolition, removal and replacement of the old concrete terrace, stairways and retaining walls. The footprint of the existing stairways, terraces and retaining walls is a series of complex curves, reverse curves and radii. In other words, there are no “straight” lines. Compass staked and marked the new locations of those features, a process made more difficult because survey control points were removed and destroyed in the project.

Compass dedicated its top field surveyor to this project – a professional land surveyor with over 25 years experience, well-versed in (RTK) GPS, robotic technology, field procedures, plan reading and interpreting, and mathematics. With his technical expertise and skills, along with a commitment to respond at a moment’s notice, Compass provided the seamless surveying and consultation services that enabled the project to be completed effectively, efficiently and with care.

THE BENEFITS: Security and peace of mind knowing that detailed and accurate surveys were at the foundation of a $30 million restoration, preserving the integrity of an important and iconic religious landmark

Renovating a landmark temple that took 30 years to build and that carries immense religious and historical importance demands extraordinary care, attention to detail, and flexibility. By understanding not only the needs of other professionals involved in the project, including engineers, architects and contractors, but the concerns and wishes of the end client, Compass was able to help guide the project to successful and efficient completion with care and professionalism.

Case Study 4 – Surveying Naval Station Great Lakes Residences

THE CHALLENGE: Surveying moving targets

A large consulting engineering firm representing a large national land development client needed ALTA surveys for portions of the Glenview, Fort Sheridan and Great Lakes naval bases.

The surveys, comprising more than 600 acres, were part of the client’s 2,400-unit, multistate residential redevelopment project. The majority of the property was fully developed and improved with housing units, sidewalks, roadways and utilities and had never been subdivided into individual land parcels. Furthermore, legal descriptions existed for each entire naval base, but none existed for the sections of each that were to be redeveloped.

During the negotiation process, land boundaries determining the limits of demolition and reconstruction continuously moved. Residential areas and roadways needed to be included, while landfill areas, open lands, mildly contaminated areas, and historical sites were continually added and removed from the project, creating an always-changing “moving target.”

THE SOLUTION: Experience, dedication and commitment

Compass dedicated its top talent to this project, including a professional surveyor with 35 years experience, a senior survey crew with more than 15 years experience and well-versed in (RTK) GPS and robotic technology, and a senior CAD technician well-versed in AutoCAD and with 20 years experience. This team was committed to meeting the project’s initial deadline of eight weeks. Negotiations started after the first draft of the surveys was released, and land boundaries immediately began moving. A school site was included; a water tower site was excluded; a historical site was included then excluded – twice. Open space parcels and landfill parcels changed shape several times before being excluded.

Each time a change occurred to the property, the overall survey was revised, new legal descriptions were prepared, and land acreage was calculated and sent across the country the same day. That fast and accurate response could only be accomplished by an experienced and skilled team dedicated to the project.