Jobs Homes Autos For Sale

Libertyville's showcase development for sale
By Mick Zawislak | Daily Herald Staff

Lots remain undeveloped along School Street near downtown Libertyville. A sheriff's sale is scheduled for later this month.


Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

Plans to develop the School Street District included the old Central School, left, near downtown Libertyville.


Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

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Published: 9/2/200 12:04 AM

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The view from the front porches of one of the more elegant buildings in Libertyville isn't what the residents expected.

Instead of a lushly landscaped neighborhood of luxurious brownstones, the few who live on School Street see empty lots marked with construction stakes.

A derelict old school, purposely included in the project as an example of innovative development, also is untouched, though the gym portion has been removed.

When or whether the landscape will change could be determined Sept. 22 when Central School and the vacant lots will be offered at a sheriff's sale to the highest bidder.

"We've been sad it hasn't gone forward but we understand the circumstances," said Patti Snickenberger, who with her husband Tom, are among the four families living in the only building of the School Street District Brownstones and Condominiums to be completed.

Peg McGann, a longtime village resident, said she loves her townhome, secured on a handshake before it was built. Completing the project would be nice but "it doesn't have to be tomorrow," she added. "Is it the worst thing that could happen? No."

Both are disappointed the neighborhood hasn't filled in but are thankful there aren't half-completed buildings down the block. The Hummel Group Ltd., of Palatine, while it controlled the project, was easy to work with and responsive, they agree.

But like other builders and homeowners, 40-year-old company ran into trouble.

With prices starting at about $800,000, the offerings appear to have been particularly vulnerable during the housing and economic crisis.

Residents knew something was amiss this spring when the model home closed. They deal with a court-appointed receiver for maintenance issues.

"It's just one of those unfortunate stories a lot of people got caught up in," Snickenberger said.

The project calls for 31 brownstones to be built in four phases, and 12 to 16 condos in the school.

"We're very concerned and would like to see the property developed," said John Spoden, the village's director of community development. "It's disheartening the project didn't go through."

In February, Libertyville Bank & Trust Company filed a foreclosure proceeding against the builders. A judgment of more than $5.1 million was entered last month and the sheriff's sale date set.

The successful bidder must put down 10 percent immediately and pay the balance within two business days.

"This is right up there with some of the bigger ones I've sold," said Lake County Sheriff's Deputy Greg Reschke, who runs the sales. The sheriff's office is the selling agent for Lake County, which took over the process in June to centralize foreclosure proceedings.

Reschke said the petitioner, in this case Libertyville Bank & Trust, makes the first bid for the amount owed. If no other bids are received, the bank gets title to the property to satisfy the debt.

The village drove the project by acquiring and demolishing homes in the area over several years to create a new neighborhood. The school renovation would provide affordable housing and preserve some village history.

Impressed with the quality and creativity of the plans - and it's offer of more than $3.6 million for the land and school - the village chose Hummel in early 2005 from among several developers.