Linden House, an apartment building at 1020 Desplaines, which suffered from years of mismanagement and a fire that dislocated some residents for 13 months, is about to undergo extensive rehab.
In Nov. 2019 the Forest Park Review reported that Linden House residents, who had been housed at a hotel in Oak Brook since being displaced by a fire in November 2018, were being forced back into their units by the owner so he could close on the sale of the building. The buyer’s attorneys advised against purchasing the building until all residents were back in their apartments.
The units, however, were not ready to be inhabited. The village cracked down on the owner, giving him 30 days to make necessary repairs.
The building also failed HUD inspection in January 2019, receiving a 24 out of 100 possible points for health and safety, including exigent fire/safety violations and deficiencies related to smoke detectors. The previous owners, George, Christine and Katherine Sellas, could not be reached for comment at the time.
Now, however, the potential buyers, even before closing on the building, are putting their money into renovation, working hard to get the tenants back into their homes before the end of the year. The building is being purchased by New Frontier, which partners with Pacific Management, Inc. to oversee the properties. The closing is expected to happen in two weeks.
“We’re taking over and getting everyone back in as soon as we can,” said Kathy Nuss, vice president of residential marketing at Pacific Management. “The people who live here have suffered long enough.”
Jeff Richards, New Frontier’s acquisitions chief, expressed similar sentiment. “We are here to turn this around,” he said. New Frontier currently owns 21 properties encompassing almost 3,000 units, most of them Section 8,
Once New Frontier closes on the building in early January, said Richards, serious improvements on the building will begin.
“There is around $3 million that will go into rehab within the next nine to 12 months,” Richards said. Forty of the 60 total units will be completely gutted. The north facing wall, which is in need of serious repair, will be fixed. The roof will be repaired, and the balconies will be redone.
Extensive fire and safety improvements will be made, said Richards, and the parking lot will be repaved with fresh asphalt.
“We also have an in-house interior decorator who will be bringing in new furnishings and colors to the lobby,” said Nuss. She also mentioned a new FOB system for entry, so residents won’t have to fumble around for keys. Laundry facilities will be moved up to the first floor, and residents can pay for the washers and dryers using a card, with a machine in the lobby to add money to it.
“We want to make things easier for the residents,” said Nuss.
Richards, who has been working with HUD for over a year to purchase the building, is looking forward to moving forward with repairs.
“We took over management in advance, so we could just get started,” he said, even though he acknowledged it was a risk to do so before closing on the property.
Mayor Rory Hoskins, who met with the residents at the hotel in Oak Brook on Dec. 20, said he’s pleased to have new management at Linden House and looks forward to the improvements.
“We’re a small and tight-knit community,” said Hoskins. “We care about the people who live here.”
Steve Glinke, Forest Park’s public safety and building department director, also expressed his appreciation for the work that has already been done by New Frontier and Pacific Management, Inc.
“We’re thrilled that the building is under new management,” said Glinke. “It’s a great partnership between the village and the new owners and managers. They’re good people.”