Construction Fox River Grove apartment complex stalled as contractors sue to get paid
Contractors who worked on a partially constructed apartment complex in Fox River Grove say the developer owes them millions of dollars.
A growing number of companies are suing The Grove Residences LLC and Branko Tupanjac of Lake Forest, who is identified in court records as its manager, according to a lawsuit filed last year in the McHenry County courthouse.
Attorneys representing Spancrete of Illinois, the lead complainant in the lawsuit, as well as attorneys for counter-plaintiffs Ozinga Ready Mix, Skiba Construction, Creative Erectors LLC and the project's lender, Jorie L.P. of Nevada, appeared during a court hearing Wednesday.
Others in the lawsuit are Wells Concrete Products, Custom Home Development Inc. and "unknown owners and non-record claimants," according to court documents.
Among the liens, Spancrete is seeking $1.5 million, Ozinga about $145,000 and Creative Erectors LLC $332,000, according to court filings.
No one was present in the courtroom for The Grove Residences LLC or Tupanjac. Attorneys have also not filed appearances for either.
The absence did not go unnoticed by McHenry County Judge David Gervais, who said their "failure to appear put them in default."
A call to Kirk Rustman, who has commented to the Northwest Herald on behalf of the developer in the past, was not returned Wednesday.
The judge granted an extension for amendments to the complaint and set the next court dates.
"This case is going to grow exponentially," Gervais said.
The case centers around the development at 401 Algonquin Road. Construction of the five-story, 100-unit apartment complex started in 2019. But the work has been stalled since last spring.
The project garnered criticism from neighbors over concerns about privacy and an influx of new residents, as well as questions from the Fox River Grove Fire Protection District, which asked in an unusual move to review safety codes and planning documents for the new building.
Leasing for the structure was expected to begin in early 2024, Fox River Grove Village Administrator Derek Soderholm said. Instead, it has become an eyesore that village officials say they hope will be completed at some point by either the current owner or someone else.
"There has been no progress for quite some time," Soderholm said Wednesday. "The village is not holding up the project at all. They have not come in for any more permits."
Branko has applied for and received only one building permit allowing the concrete foundation to be poured at the site. No other permits have been applied for or issued since, Soderholm said.
Soderholm could not comment on why the developer has not moved forward with the project. But he said village residents and officials "are disappointed with the extreme lack of progress."
Once completed, it would add additional residents to the community who will be supporting local businesses and generating property tax revenue, Soderholm said.
"It is now a blight on the community," he said. "It is just sitting there, a concrete structure not being used for anything."
Does the village regret any of the decisions it made regarding the development?
"Hindsight is always 20/20," Soderholm said. "I can't speak for how the village feels as an entity, but we are certainly not pleased with the progress of the project." There is little the village can do to move the construction along because it is owned by a private party, he said.
"We are trying to encourage the developer to make progress," Soderholm said. "Either complete the project ... or move aside and sell the property and allow it to be developed by someone else."