By MATT HOPFHerald-Whig Staff Writer
The city of Quincy could decide to accept the deed to the Newcomb Hotel instead of trying to foreclose on the property.
Victor Horowitz, the owner of the hotel at Fourth and Maine, is offering the deed to the property to avoid foreclosure proceedings. Horowitz owes the city about $477,000 in overdue loan payments and back property taxes.
The city's Revolving Loan Committee will discuss the deed proposal Thursday in closed session. Director of Planning and Development Chuck Bevelheimer said if the committee decides to recommend accepting the deed, it would go before the City Council for approval.
The city planned to take Horowitz to court after he failed to respond to a 20-day notice ordering him to pay the overdue money and improve the physical condition of the former hotel building. He bought the building for $550,000 in 2003 from the Rezmar Corp., which had owned the building since 1996, and planned to develop it into an assisted-living facility.
The Revolving Loan Committee provided Horowitz with a $500,000 loan in December 2003, and the Adams County Revolving Loan Committee provided an additional $50,000. Property taxes have been paid by the Revolving Loan Committee for the past two years, and the committee covered also overdue taxes for 2008 and 2009.
With the status of the building in limbo, the city has been unable to market the property to developers.
"Without control of the property, we're unable to seek development opportunities beyond what the owner was proposing, which wasn't going anywhere very fast," Bevelheimer said. "Our hope is to control the property so we can pursue other redevelopment opportunities."
A long line of owners and developers have been unable to rehab the 77,500-square-foot building, which has stood empty for the past 30 years.
Realtor and developer Bob Mays bought the building for $287,500 in 1983. He sold it in 1988 to Rappaport Inc. of Minnesota, which planned to develop the property as a senior housing project. When the company ran into financial difficulties, the Westin Financial Group bought it and soon transferred ownership to its construction division, American Reality Constructors. Ownership of the building then was transferred to Historical Housing for Senior II in California.
Rezmar bought the Newcomb in 1996 for $1.2 million, but while some work inside was started, it was never completed.
The vacant building is in need of millions of dollars in renovations. A $14 million to $15 million plan to develop the hotel into an assisted-living facility fell through at the last minute in 2011 when Skokie-based 3 Diamond Development could not guarantee the financial return for potential investors and pulled out of the deal.
It is one of two buildings in the city that is marked with an "X," meaning Quincy firefighters won't enter it unless someone needs to be rescued or a fire is small enough that it can be extinguished quickly.