Mineola Hotel to close for good Sunday, but marina will remain open
A Lake County circuit judge ruled Wednesday that the Mineola Lounge in Fox Lake must close after business Sunday night due to numerous safety issues.
Gilbert R. Boucher II/gboucher@dailyherald
The historic Mineola Hotel will shut down indefinitely after the close of business late Sunday night, under a court settlement reached Wednesday.
In that settlement, the village of Fox Lake and Mineola owner Pete Jakstas agreed to close the 128-year-old wooden structure, known as the "Grand Lady of the Lakes," due to structural safety concerns, village officials said.
Will designation as one of the most endangered historic structures help the Mineola?
Jakstas said the Mineola Marina will remain open and operating on the shores of Fox Lake.
"I just can't believe it has come to this," he said shortly after the settlement was reached at the Lake County Courthouse in Waukegan. "With as active as I've been in the Fox Lake community, they shut me down."
The court action comes nearly two weeks after Jakstas put the historic hotel up for a national online auction oneBay with a reserve starting bid of $2 million. No bids have been submitted in the auction set to end May 30.
On Wednesday, Jakstas said he elected to settle the court case filed against him by the village, rather than risk having a judge shut him down immediately.
By remaining open through the weekend, Jakstas said he has the opportunity to sell off the remaining inventory at the historic tavern.
"This is the last weekend the public will be able to see the inside of the Mineola," he said.
Though the Mineola Lounge and restaurant remain open on the ground floor, the upper floors of the hotel have been closed since the early 1960s for safety reasons.
Jakstas and the village have been fighting in court since August 2011 over the structural integrity of the aging Mineola.
The battle officially started in May 2011 when Fox Lake building inspector Frank Urbina attempted to condemn the facility at 91 Cora Ave. Urbina said holes in the roof and years of age had left the four-story structure unstable.
However, Jakstas hired his own building inspector to examine the facility. That inspector ruled the Mineola was safe, forcing the village to reopen the building.
When the building reopened, the village gave Jakstas 90 days to start repairs or face another shutdown.
Jakstas has done some work, but not enough to appease the village. The village hired a Chicago attorney and filed the condemnation lawsuit.
Under the settlement reached before Wednesday's scheduled court hearing, Jakstas is allowed to sell the remaining stock in food and beverages at the Mineola, but must shutter the building for good after the doors are locked Sunday night.
On Monday at 9 a.m., the Mineola liquor license will be void, officials said. Jakstas will have until July 31 to remove any fixtures inside.
Also, Jakstas must maintain insurance on the property and secure the building to keep the public out. He must also obtain a demolition permit should the building be dismantled or scavenged.
"It was in our best interest to resolve this now and get the property closed," Urbina said after the hearing. "We are giving him some time to get his things out and sell off his inventory, but then it needs to be closed down for the safety of people who go in there."
Despite the condemnation, Jakstas has listed the historic building — made famous as a weekend retreat by Al Capone and other mobsters — along with his marina and a house on the property with an opening bid of $2 million on eBay.
Jakstas said he hopes putting the 17-acre lakefront property on eBay will generate bids from around the nation.
The building is listed under commercial real estate, and potential buyers must meet a higher reserve price or face having their bid rejected.
The Mineola was once listed as the oldest wooden structure in Illinois and was named to the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of Interior and Parks in 1979.
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