Algonquin eyesore up for auction

  • Not much has changed in the last two years at the Riverside Square building in downtown Algonquin. An auction might change that.

    Not much has changed in the last two years at the Riverside Square building in downtown Algonquin. An auction might change that. BRIAN HILL | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 1/6/2011 4:53 PM

Riverside Square, the half-finished, mixed-use project that has been an eyesore in the heart of Algonquin's downtown for more than two years, may soon have a new owner.

The site will go to a court-ordered auction on Jan. 20, just days before a hearing on the village of Algonquin's request that the current owners demolish the building, village officials said.

 

Algonquin officials said they are hopeful a buyer will step in to quickly finish the project. If that doesn't happen, they will continue to seek demolition -- and have no plans to halt the lawsuit against the current owner.

"We're hoping the auction provides a buyer that will finish it," Village President John Schmitt said. "We will continue with that lawsuit because if the purchaser doesn't finish the project, we will tear it down."

Original plans called for a high-end mixed-use building with 54 condominium units and ground-level retailers at the northeast corner of Routes 31 and 62.

Construction started in 2007 but stalled in 2008 when the original developer defaulted on its construction loan and filed for bankruptcy.

After unsuccessful attempts to get the project lenders to finish the project, the village filed suit to force demolition of the eyesore and recover fines for property maintenance and building code violations.

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That suit is in court next on Jan. 14, when a McHenry County judge will consider an emergency motion the village filed to compel current owner Harris Bank to do a better job of securing the property. That motion was prompted by recent acts of vandalism and safety concerns, an attorney for the village said.

"It was obvious people were getting into the site, so we brought a motion to better enclose the building and address the broken windows," village attorney Kelly Cahill said.

A hearing on the substantive issues of the case is still set for Jan. 28, when a trial date may be set.

In the meantime, village officials said completing the building may not be an option for much longer.

"Structurally it is sound," Schmitt said, citing the village engineer's recent inspections. But, he added, "It's getting to the point where it won't be for too much longer."