Mystery buyer for old Palos Hills racquetball club property

  • Written by Joe Boyle

old racquetball site photo 8-10

Photo by Joe Boyle

The site of the old Palos Olympic Health & Racquetball Club at 11050 S. Roberts Road in Palos Hills is a fenced off. City officials learned last week that an unknown buyer had purchased the property.

Palos Hills attorney George Pappas anticipated delivering some promising news in regards to the long closed Palos Olympic Health & Racquetball Club.

Pappas expected to inform the Palos Hills City Council last Thursday night that the request to acquire the property that houses the old racquetball club, which is located on the backlot of 11050 S. Roberts Road, was acquired by the city through Cook County’s No Cash Bid Program.

But instead the attorney informed the surprised board members that someone or some entity has purchased the building.

“I don’t know who it is,” Pappas said. “But they probably don’t know the circumstances of this. Whoever bought it does not understand what they got into. It maybe to our advantage to see what the buyer is going to do with it. I was shocked that someone would buy this property. But they are going to have to come to us eventually for permits.”

At this time, Pappas said he does not know the identity of the buyer or buyers. The attorney said he would know within two weeks.

Mayor Gerald Bennett was also initially stunned at the news that the property was purchased, especially since it has been vacant for over 10 years. But the mayor indicated that the property will most likely end up back in the city’s possession.

“The buyer is going to have to bring the building down,” Bennett said. “It could cost him at least $100,000.”

Ald. Martin Kleefisch (1sst Ward) wondered how long all this could take.

“How long can he sit on that property and do nothing with it? (How long) can he not pay taxes?

Both Bennett and Pappas responded that it could be as long as two years. But the mayor said that the threat of condemnation that would require him to have it torn down may give the owner second thoughts.

The board earlier this year directed Pappas to file the necessary documents with the county in an attempt to acquire the racquetball club property through the No Cash program, an economic development tool designed to assist municipalities in acquiring delinquent property to reuse. The property could become part of a private development project.

Besides the costs of demolition, the property has back taxes that amount to $300,000, according to Pappas. The city has said if were able to purchase the property they would raze the old racquetball club building for $100,000 and then leave the land open for some time. The city would consider offers from developers, Bennett has previously said.

If the city was able to acquire the property through the No Cash Bid program, they would not be responsible for the taxes. Despite the setback, both Bennett and Pappas were certain that the city will eventually end up with the property. And Pappas reminded board members that hold a lien on the property.

In other news, Ald. Mary Ann Schultz (3rd Ward) asked for the approval of Carousel Checks Inc. to move to the city, which had already been approved by the city’s Plan Commission. Andrew Crim, president of Carousel Checks Inc., has asked the board for approval to move his company from Bridgeview to the building that has been occupied by Weller Truck Parts at 11152 Southwest Highway. The board approved the measure.

Crim is a former Palos Hills resident. The company was founded in 2004 and has 86 employees, with about 20 more to be added with the move to Palos Hills, according to Crim. Bennett has spoken previously that he wanted to see Carousel Checks relocated to Palos Hills.

Schultz also asked the board to approve the Law Enforcement Security Training Center, 9800 S. Roberts Road, which received the approval of the Plan Commission. The board approved and granted the petitioner request for special use for police training and for concealed carry instruction.

Several board members applauded the efforts of the organizers of the National Night Out event that was held Aug. 1 at Town Square Park. Ald. Joe Marrotta (4th Ward) also said the evening was a success but would like more publicity provided for the event before next year’s National Night Out. Bennett agreed that more will be done next year to publicize the event.

Marotta also mentioned that maybe one or a couple of Concerts in the Park could be held at Town Square Park in 2018.

“I think this would be a great place for a concert and would be great for the community,” Marrotta said.

Bennett said that this could be a good idea will be looked into before next summer.

The mayor also mentioned that a Fajita’s Mexican Restaurant will open later this month at 10296 S. 78th Ave.