Homewood to seek condemnation of former Bogart's Charhouse

Broken front windows on the former Bogart's
Charhouse have since been boarded up by the
village, but they are a sign of neglect that has
rendered the buiilding uninhabitable, according 
to village officials.
(November 2015 photos by 
Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)

The former Bogart's Charhouse at 18225 Dixie Highway has deteriorated to the point that it should be demolished, according to Homewood officials.

At the Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday, Fire Chief Bob Grabowski, who also supervises the Building Department, reported that he inspected the exterior and part of the interior of the building last week and determined that it should be condemned.

The board approved a motion directing staff to begin the condemnation process.

Grabowski said the village has taken some steps to maintain the front of the building, which faces busy Dixie Highway, most recently boarding up broken windows. But the building has been vacant for about seven years, and in that time the owners have not taken responsibility for making repairs. 

"My main concern is in the middle part of the building where the roof has actually collapsed," Grabowski said. "I don't worry about the building coming down, but (the roof) is going to continue to collapse."

Village Attorney Chris Cummings said a big challenge dealing with the Bogarts property that it consists of five tax parcels, three behind the building, the building itself and the parking lot on Dixie Highway.
 
Cummings said properties with unpaid tax bills often get sold to various parties that can be difficult to contact and work with. 

"They have not gotten a deed for the property," he said. "What they do is they sit on it. And they have sat on it for years."

He said the unpaid taxes on the building alone through 2014 are $44,000. Considering the tax bill and the extensive rehabilitation that would be required to bring the building back up to code, he said it was unlikely anyone would redevelop it.

The next step would be for the village to file suit asking the courts to grant permission to demolish the building, Cummings said.

"This is not going to be a quick fix, but ultimately it's going to be probably the best outcome," he added. 

Ownership of the property is being sought by the South Suburban Land Bank, its first big project in Homewood since the village joined the organization last year. 

Village Manager Jim Marino said the demolition of the building would not interfere with that effort.

"It actually makes it a little easier," he said. The land bank was enlisted to acquire the property because it specializes in dealing with unpaid taxes and liens and can do so faster than the village could on its own.

Grabowski also informed the board that the building department is working on about 30 commercial properties and one residential property that have maintenance and repair problems though none are as severe as the former Bogarts.

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