Though the final documents have not been signed, the Village of Forest Park will soon own the fire-torn property at 512 Desplaines Ave. that was allegedly torched last summer just days after falling into foreclosure.
The village has finished negotiating with Deutsche Bank, which had assumed ownership of the two-flat, and the Village Council voted Monday to accept the property title when it becomes available. That could happen in anywhere from two weeks to a month, according to Village Administrator Tim Gillian.
Mayor Anthony Calderone originally wanted the bank to give the building to Forest Park with a free and clear title. After striking a deal, the bank will be responsible for $5,000 in taxes from the second half of 2009 while the village will pay a portion of the 2010 tax year, which will be approximately $8,000.
The agreement also stipulates that the bank will donate the property “as is,” meaning it will no longer be responsible for any liabilities related to the building’s condition.
As of now, though, it is still unclear whether the village will use the building or knock it down. “It’s all on the table,” Gillian said.
The property could be turned into a village parking lot, for one example. Gillian is currently working with other department heads to see if additional parking is needed.
Calderone’s initial vision, which was to have the building house the Historical Society of Forest Park, still remains an option.
“We first wanted to walk our way through the process of securing the property,” Calderone said. “Once we have ownership, we can take our time on its ultimate use.”
Fire Chief and Building Department Director Steve Glinke said that his team is “poised to take quick action to make safe the property” as soon as the village receives the title and decides its fate. The boarded-up building is structurally sound, he said, but it suffered great damage to the roof and interior from the blaze.
“With no roof, whatever condition that exists on the inside is only going to get worse,” he said.
Realistically, though, Calderone said that building rehab could not start before winter hits. The village does not have “cash on hand” right now, so he would need to secure grants before any work is initiated.
As for the repairs, Gillian also noted, “I can’t really do anything with that until I get possession of the building.”
Calderone estimated that specific plans probably won’t materialize until the beginning of 2011. He said he is certain the topic will generate lots of discussion, and it will eventually be presented to the Village Council for a decision.
Overall, Calderone said he is “thrilled” about acquiring the property. “How often does a municipality get a piece of property for virtually nothing?” he said.