Committee recommends City Council approve deal to take possession of Newcomb Hotel

The Newcomb Hotel. (H-W File Photo/Phil Carlson)
Posted: Jan. 31, 2013 6:25 pm Updated: Feb. 14, 2013 7:15 pm

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

The Quincy Revolving Loan Committee recommended Thursday that the City Council agree to accept the deed to the Newcomb Hotel to avoid foreclosure proceedings with the owner.

Aldermen could vote on the proposal as early as Monday's City Council meeting.

If Quincy aldermen agree to accept the bid, this means the committee will write off $477,000 in overdue loan payments and back property taxes from owner Victor Horowitz, who offered the deed to the city.

The committee met for 30 minutes in closed session before issuing its recommendation.

"In essence, they're writing this off as a bad loan back in 2003," said Quincy Mayor John Spring. "There was no guarantee."

The committee also recommended that council remove a provision from the agreement that would have made the city liable for any issues with the building after it takes possession.

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 also covered  overdue taxes for 2008 and 2009.

For the 30 years the building has been vacant, and this would be the first time the city has owned the property.

A long line of owners and developers have been unable to rehab the 77,500-square-foot building. Numerous plans to redevelop the project have been unsuccessful. Any renovation of the building is expected to run into the millions.

The closest effort for redevelopment came in 2011, when Skokie-based 3 Diamond Development could not guarantee the financial return for potential investors and pulled out of the deal. The group planned a $14 million to $15 million plan to develop the hotel into an assisted-living facility.

Spring said the city has talked with two developers that have shown interest in the vacant property.

"We have not really shown them the whole property, because we were worried that we didn't own the property," he said. "Rather then get into any kind of problem in showing property that wasn't ours, we're waiting until the council approves this."

Spring would not comment on what type of developers are interested in the property, except that both redevelop "big older buildings."

Travis Brown, executive director of the Historic Quincy Business District, said development of the Newcomb would be "huge" for downtown Quincy, especially if it is developed into market rate apartments.

"Bringing those people in for that 5 p.m. to 9 a.m. shift would really have a huge impact on the district," he said.