In 2005 there was a business in Morton Grove named Domicile Furniture. This business was located in the Lehigh-Ferris TIF district and the village wanted to acquire the property. The landowner did not wish to sell, and there was ongoing litigation. Finally, the village president with the advice and consent of the village attorney and the majority of the village board reached a negotiated settlement with the land owner. Subsequent to taking possession of the property in question for more than twice the value it was originally appraised at, it was discovered that there was contamination in the soil which required an EPA remediation, (cleanup) which would cost between $500,000 and $1,000,000 over and above the purchase price. Apparently, someone on the village side did not do their due diligence and the property stands vacant to this day.
On Lehigh avenue at Chestnut stands another parcel of property owned by the village. Pequad’s, a well known local pizzeria wanted to relocate there and anchor a development across from the Morton Grove Metra station. Once again, soil contamination became an issue with the redevelopement .Once again, apparently someone in the village didn’t do their due diligence and the property stands vacant to this day.
On Dempster street, between Ferris and Lehigh sits a rather large parcel of property. It used to house two fairly popular Morton Grove eateries until it was acquired by the village. There were grandiose plans for a multi-use structure, but the original buyer was foreclosed on by the bank. Through intervention by the village, the property was resold to a political contributor to mayor DiMaria for the purpose of building a restaurant. Those plans fell through, and the village repurchased the parcel giving the mayor’s buddy a quick $500,000 profit. Within the last year, the Moretti family, restaurateurs and friends of mayor DiMaria were given the opportunity of leasing the property from the village for a ridiculously paltry sum for an extended period. They were to build a large restaurant/banquet facility. There was, however, a problem that raised it’s ugly head. This land too, was found to be contaminated and required EPA clean up. Once again, apparently somebody failed to do their due diligence, and, you probably guessed it, this parcel too, stands vacant.
Does anyone else see a pattern here?
The village attorney in Morton Grove handles all legal matters and real-estate transactions for the city, acting as a general counsel and giving legal advice for city departments. That would seem to include making sure that the required investigation of defects was made prior to committing tax dollars before purchasing real estate, (overlooking the argument as to why the village is in the real estate business in the first place).
Over the course of the past eleven years, there is one constant throughout this saga. The person who was responsible for protecting the interests of the village and the taxpayers, the person who had the duty to see that everything was done properly, the person who failed the village and it’s residents was the same person, the village attorney, Theresa Hoffman Liston.
Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?