City finally gains possession of Newcomb Hotel property

Posted: Nov. 14, 2013 3:18 pm Updated: Nov. 28, 2013 4:15 pm
Herald-Whig Staff Writer

The city of Quincy officially owns the Newcomb Hotel property.

Adams County Circuit Judge Thomas Ortbal has ordered that the city receive the title to the property at 400 Maine after the holder of a mechanics lien decline to appeal the foreclosure.

The city can now move forward with selling the property, if it chooses. The historic hotel was gutted in a five-alarm fire on Sept. 6, and the city has since spent more than $52,000 in tax increment financing district money for the emergency demolition of what remained of the building.

Mayor Kyle Moore said the Finance Committee will determine Monday night whether to request proposals for the sale of the property. Proposals previously had been sought for cleaning up the site, but an unsolicited offer to buy the property was received last week. Selling the property could potentially save the city $500,000 in cleanup costs.

If the committee agrees to entertain bids to buy the property, Moore expects those proposals to be received by the third week in December for consideration.

“We’ll weigh the options versus the original bids for complete removal of the debris and go from there,” he said. “Hopefully, this should be the last unexpected delay with the process.”

The bids will ask developers for their plans for the property. The city’s preference would be for a mixed-use building, with commercial and residential space.

“It will need to meet with our downtown codes,” Moore said.

If the city sells the property, the buyer would be required to buy a demolition bond and clear debris from the property within 90 days. If the site isn’t cleared within that time, the city would step in and be reimbursed for costs from that bond money.

“We don’t want the debris sitting in its current condition for another year,” Moore said. “We want to make sure we get this site cleaned up.”

A consent agreement with owner Victor Horowitz to transfer ownership to the city was completed Oct. 7 in Adams County Circuit Court, but a mechanics lien filed by HG Contracting of Skokie for money it said it was owed for work completed in 2010 gave the company 30 days to appeal.

HG Contracting would have had to pay the city money owed by Horowitz to halt the foreclosure. Court documents showed that as of June 30, Horowitz owed $525,932 in principal on a loan he received in 2003, plus interest, service fees and property taxes paid by the city. An Adams County loan has a balance of $49,640.

The city originally filed to foreclose on the building in July, about two months after a three-story section of the building collapsed during severe storms. The case continued even after the fire.