By MATT HOPF
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
The city of Quincy and the owner of the Newcomb Hotel are heading to trial over the dilapidated condition of the building.
Eighth Circuit Court Judge Chet Vahle set the bench trial for Sept. 16 after a brief hearing Thursday at the Adams County Courthouse.
The city originally cited an agent of Newcomb Realty LLC, which owns the building at 400 Maine, on April 26 for maintaining a unsafe structure. A three-story section in the rear of the hotel collapsed after severe storms that passed through the region on April 17.
Assistant Corporation Council Bruce Alford said the city had the building inspected after the collapse and was told it was not in imminent danger to collapse.
The court could issue fines of up to $500 a day until the structure is deemed safe.
The 77,500-square-foot, 120-room hotel, which opened in March 1888, has sat vacant for more than 30 years. Several developers have tried and failed to renovate the building. A deal to complete a $13 million to $15 million renovation of the building into an assisted-living facility fell through in 2011 when a Skokie-developer could not guarantee the financial return for potential investors and pulled out of a deal at the eleventh hour.
The city has been in a drawn-out dispute with owner Victor Horowitz over a $500,000 loan he received from the city's Revolving Loan Committee in 2003 to buy the Newcomb.
Steps have been taken to find a new developer. The city's Finance Committee approved on June 17 a plan to request proposals from parties interested in redeveloping the hotel if the city were to take possession of it. City officials hope the plan will make it easier for the city to avoid owning the building for an extended period of time.
"The question is whether they will have to demolish the three-story portion" or the entire building, Alford said.
The request for proposals is posted on the city's website.
Even if the city were to take possession of the building, questions remain about a mechanics lien that was placed on the property.
After threatening Horowitz with foreclosure, the city's Revolving Loan Committee on Jan. 31 recommended that the city instead accept the deed to the building. However, the city discovered a $116,000 lien that had been placed on the property by HG Contracting of Skokie for work it said it had not been paid for. Records show that the lien was filed in the Adams County Recorder's Office on April 30.