Lake County, IDOT ordered to pay $7.1 million to Round Lake Beach business owner

Lake County and the Illinois Department of Transportation must pay $7.1 million to the owner of a Round Lake Beach shopping center as compensation for land taken and other damages as part of the Rollins Road Gateway Project.

A jury issued the judgment in favor of Aliza Guren, owner of the Round Lake Commons Shopping Center, after a two-week trial last month.

At issue was the value of shopping center land at Route 83 and Rollins Road taken for the Gateway Project. The $33 million road upgrade entailed major improvements to the intersection and construction of an overpass carrying trains on the Canadian National Railroad tracks over Rollins Road.

Lake County Administrator Barry Burton said there are no plans to appeal the jury's decision.

"At the end of the day, what we're concerned about is having a completed project that came in on budget," he said, adding the work significantly improved conditions at one of the worst traffic spots in the county.

Burton said the county always intended to pay for the shopping center property taken for the project. He said officials decided to move forward with construction and allow the courts to determine the land's value, rather than delay work while negotiating a property sale.

"We budgeted for this," he said. "We thought it would be a smaller amount, but that's OK."

Guren attorney Robert O'Donnell said the project caused significant damage to the shopping center. Although the county took less than a quarter-acre at the corner of Route 83 and Rollins Road, the project required the removal of a bank tenant occupying an outlot and forced Guren to renegotiate other tenants' leases for lower rents.

The project also removed some driveway entrances, forced changes to the internal circulation of the shopping center and created a bypass road through a portion of the center's parking lot.

The work ultimately cost the center its anchor tenant, O'Donnell said.

"(The Gateway Project) construction placed a unique - and expensive - burden on the shopping center and its customers," O'Donnell said.

In addition to the $7.1 million judgment, the owner of the shopping center is entitled to additional 6 percent interest on the award.

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