Judge Awards Village of Lincolnwood of Fines, Penalties and Attorney Fees
CHICAGO – February 9, 2011 – Holland & Knight is pleased to announce that Chicago Partner, Steven M. Elrod, represented the Village of Lincolnwood in the litigation of the deteriorated landmark building, the Purple Hotel. On February 7, 2011, Cook County Circuit Judge Kathleen Pantle confirmed a consent decree declaring the Purple Hotel "dangerous and unsafe." Judge Pantle's decision also gives the Village the right to demolish the building at the property's own expense, should the property owner not comply by August 1, 2011.
In March 2010, the Village filed a complaint against the hotel owner, Village Resorts, Inc., alleging that the property had deteriorated, and was in violation of 31 separate building and property maintenance code provisions of the Village. The complaint asked for the building to either be brought into code compliance, or to be demolished, in accordance with the Illinois Demolition Act.
Elrod, who filed the lawsuit and negotiated the consent decree said, "We achieved everything that we asked for in this litigation. The Illinois Demolition Act is a powerful tool for municipal governments, providing for extraordinary relief that is awarded in only the rarest of circumstances. In our case, both the property owner and the Court recognized that the Village had a legitimate public health and safety interest in seeking demolition, and had satisfied all of the rigorous standards for relief under the statute."
Notably, the consent decree also awarded the Village of fines, penalties, and attorneys' fees: $15,500 ($500 for each of the 31 code violations), and 100 percent of the Village's attorneys fees.
The property owner has until August 1, 2011 to bring the property into full and complete compliance with all Village Codes. If it does not, the Court order provides the Village with the right to demolish the building and to restore, grade and landscape the property after demolition. All demolition and restoration costs and expenses incurred by the Village will also be paid by the property owner.
Elrod added, "If Village Resorts, Inc. fails to pay, Lincolnwood Village will have a priority lien against the property. In accordance with the Illinois Demolition Act, that lien will automatically be superior to any and all other liens on the property, including those that may currently exist."
The consent decree also requires the property owner to keep the building in a safe and secure condition, with not occupancy allowed, until August 1. The owner must pay an additional upfront fee to the Village to cover any expenses the Village may incur in keeping the exterior of the property free from debris and weeds prior to August 1.
Lincolnwood Village President Gerald C. Turry remarked: "This is a significant victory for the Village. We know that this building has a rich history, with wonderful memories for many people. Regrettably, it has been allowed to deteriorate into a blighted condition. We had no choice but to seek its removal. We are hopeful that our actions will have a positive impact on the property owner's efforts to cause the redevelopment of the property."
Elrod is the chair of Holland & Knight's National Land Use and Government Team. He represents private and public sector clients on a broad range of land use, zoning, real estate and entitlements matters. In addition to serving as the village attorney for Lincolnwood Village, Elrod is the village attorney to Northbrook Village and is the corporation counsel for the City of Highland Park, Ill. He is also an Adjunct Professor of Law at Northwestern University School of Law, where he teaches State and Local Government Law.
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