It was a gas station 10 years ago .. It's been empty since they tore it down .. My suspicion is that there are EPA requirements to build on a former gas station (I also wonder if the gas tanks are still buried under it and would have to be removed .. ?) and that is keeping development away .. It would be GREAT to see something go in there but the only kind of development that would likely happen there is by some entity with the cash to build a commercial space from scratch .. Hopefully not more condos. The 'church' next door is also for sale.
That old gas station was a magnet for bad news. I think that they did take out the old tanks. They used to have a "for sale sign", but it has since been taken down and I saw construction trucks there last week. Hopefully something will be built that will add, not detract, from the neighborhood.
The trouble with former gas station sites is that the underground tanks will always leave some contamination behind. Whoever buys the land has to dig until they hit "clean" dirt, remove the contaminated dirt, and replace it with clean. Until a site is at a point to make spending the cleanup fees worthwhile, the lot just sits there. The Walgreens at Diversey and California is a good example - that was a gas station site that just sat for years until the neighborhood changed enough to make someone willing to put in the money to meet the environmental requirements and build. On the plus side, shady developers aren't likely to buy these lots because of the upfront building costs.
Doing a little research on the Chicago Dept. of Public Health (CDPH) storage tanks database and the Illinois EPA leaking underground storage tanks (LUST) database, I'd say contamination is actually probably not a serious impediment to commercial redevelopment of the site.
The property was formerly the Power King filling station until it shut down in early 2010. All existing underground storage tanks (USTs) were removed in May 2010. No LUST incident appears for the site in Illinois EPA's LUST database, and no corrective action was required -- i.e., no releases were identified or reported during the removal of the USTs. That removal would have been overseen by personnel from the Chicago Department of the Environment (CDOE), so it is extremely unlikely that any significant releases were present and not reported.
That said, the CDPH database includes records dating back as far as 1961 regarding the installation and removal of a variety of USTs at the site (fuel, waste oil) that were not removed under CDOE supervision. It is therefore possible that some contamination is present in the soils at this site. However, obtaining regulatory closure (and more important, ensuring the property is safe for use and occupancy) would most likely not require much if any excavation of impacted soils. If the new construction is slab-on-grade , then it could probably be built with a vapor barrier or vent system beneath the slab to prevent any existing petroleum vapors from entering the interior space of the building. Limited subsurface testing would also be necessary to demonstrate the need for and efficacy of that approach.
Illinois law does not require excavation of all contamination from a former gas station. It instead focuses on "risk-based" closure that allows at least some contamination to remain in place if there is a demonstrated lack of risk to human health for the intended use of the property.
For what it's worth, the owner might be holding out for a higher price than the market will bear, or might have decided to look for a lessee rather than a purchaser. Zillow (link below) shows the property was listed in November 2012 at ~$250K, failed to sell, and the listing was removed in February 2013. The property was relisted in May 2014 at $195,000 and then again withdrawn from the market in August 2014. Economics may be more significant than environmental concerns for potential purchasers of this property.
The older building on Diversey next to that lot was sold this fall. When it was sold there was talk (nothing official) that the same buyer was considering buying the corner lot to build condos on both properties. That was in October, but nothing has been done since.