Chicago Heights to Acquire Properties for Downtown, East Side Redevelopment
Posted on 2011-09-20 09:38:01 CST
The City Council on Monday approved measures that will give the city ownership of, or control over, properties that will enhance long-range proposals for redeveloping the downtown and the east side.
One measure approved by a 7-0 vote paves the way for city ownership of 1527 Otto Blvd., which for the past five years has been the Union Street Gallery.
The property was in foreclosure, but the bank with control over the site has little interest in trying to sell or maintain it. As part of the deal that city officials negotiated, the city will remove the liens it put on the property in an attempt to recoup the costs of mowing and other maintenance work done at the site.
In exchange, the bank will give the deed to the land to the city. The city then will approve a deal in which the Union Street Gallery will rent the building for $1 annually.
Mayor David Gonzalez called the building "gorgeous."
City Corporation Counsel T.J. Somer said the gallery has provided Chicago Heights with "one of the special, nice things that we have in the city.
Keeping the gallery in place," Somer said, "could provide a catalyst for the redirection of the downtown area."
Aldermen also voted 7-0 in favor of another measure -- one that would see the city gain control of 56 properties in the downtown area and on the east side, including a vacant seven-story building, 1700 Halsted St., that once housed First National Bank.
All of those properties are behind on taxes by at least two years, and the city hopes to use Cook County government's "no cash bid" and "scavenger sales" tax programs to gain ownership.
The resolution expresses the city's interest in gaining ownership. But the county must go through a nine-month process to allow the property owners one last chance to pay their back taxes before the city can be given tax certificates to the land at no cost to the city -- other than court costs.
Many of the downtown properties are near the proposed Metra commuter train station to be built west of East End Avenue near 17th Street, while other sites would be a part of city proposals for redevelopment of the east side.
"It behooves the city to control these sites to try to control future development in our community," Somer said.
Article by: Gregory Tejeda, NWI Times Correspondent / nwitimes.com
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