SOUTH BELOIT—The Garden Hotel, which was condemned over two years ago, continues to be “problematic,” in a number of ways, according to South Beloit City officials.
A legal battle to determine the fate of the property at 200 Dearborn Ave. continues to slowly work it’s way through the court system, and there continues to be issues with people trying to break into the property and even issues of dumping on the property.
“We recently had someone dump a large camper on the property,” South Beloit Police Chief Adam Truman said in an email to the Beloit Daily News. “The street department has to periodically replace the boards from people damaging them or attempting to get in.”
South Beloit Mayor Ted Rehl said the city continues to spend money and city employee man hours on the property. He said in the case of the abandoned camper left on the property, it took about a month to dispose of it because the city had to make an earnest effort to try to identify the owner so the city had the proper permission to get rid of it. There continues to be costs relating to maintaining the property.
The city had filed a motion for summary judgement for foreclosure on the property in April. Rehl said he had high hopes that the issue regarding the hotel property would be resolved during a court hearing that was scheduled for Dec. 27.
City Attorney Roxanne Sosnowski said the case has been moving slowly through the court system, partly because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but another delay occurred this week when there was a reassignment of judges. Judge Donna Honzel, who had been presiding in the case was reassigned to another court and Judge Eugene Doherty was given the case.
Sosnowski said a hearing on the summary judgement motion for foreclosure is hoped to be scheduled in January. Attorney Jody Beilke of the law firm Barrick, Switzer, Long, Balsely and Van Evra is representing South Beloit in the case.
Rehl said the city had not heard from the owners of the property for an extended period. But, just before the court hearing this week, the owners paid back taxes on the property and attorneys for the owners expressed an interest in working out a deal with the city.
For property taxes in 2019, $45,317 in property taxes was paid, including $2,563 in late fee penalties. For property taxes from 2020, $45,267 in property taxes was paid, including $2,258 in late fee penalties, according to the Winnebago County Treasurer’s Office.
Sosnowski said the owners have made no offer to pay the city for the costs it has incurred for maintaining the property, or for fines issued to the property owners.
Rehl said he is hopeful that the issues regarding the hotel property will be resolved soon, but he is skeptical about the intentions of the owners, saying they have not put forth any plan for the property.
“They have no plan for cleanup of the property and they have no future use plan for the property,” Rehl said.
The hotel was owned by Ariva Hospitality, but in recent court documents the owners have been listed as New Chapter Group. The hotel abruptly closed in March of 2019 and it was condemned by the Winnebago County Health Department in September of 2019. The property has been a hot spot for property crimes since its closure. South Beloit police have investigated multiple reports of break-ins at the property since December of 2019.
The city paid to have the property boarded up to try to discourage break-ins at the property. The City of South Beloit paid $10,419.75 to board up the building and make it secure.
The hotel included 164 guest rooms and a swimming pool.