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Bank's Plan for Homewood Rental Units Fails

None on Homewood's Village Board supported the request by the bank that owns Flosswood Station to convert the condos to rentals.

An attempt to amend an ordinance that would allow for the conversion of 15 condos at Flosswood Station into rentals failed during the July 10 Board meeting.

The condos, built by a now-defunct developer in 2001, eventually wound up in the hands of Old National Bank after being passed down from several other banks in the process. Currently, there are 20 units in the building. Five are owned. 15 remain vacant. Old National Bank was hoping to temporarily rent the 15 vacant units with the ultimate goal of selling the units to a developer.

Neither the Zoning Board of Appeals nor the Plan Commission recommended amending the ordinance after discussions with Old National Bank representatives. Old National Bank attorney John Koyn said the bank is concerned that both organizations reacted to prior sentiment towards the original developer. He also said anti-bank sentiments may have been a factor. According to Koyn there was a concern of Old National Bank intending to “dump the property and clear out of town.

“If that was the bank’s desire, we wouldn’t be here tonight.” Koyn said. “We would have sold the units to cash buyers at discounted prices and not wasted our time.”

Koyn went on to address some of the known concerns about opening up the units for rent. He said the idea of renters bringing crime, vandalism and bad language is merely discriminatory and stereotypical speculation. Koyn also presented a flier posted in the building earlier in the day, urging condo owners to attend the village board meeting. It read:

“These condominiums are not rentals. We all bought condominiums not an apartment building.”

Koyn says that’s not true.

“We’re not asking to convert this building into an apartment building. We’re asking to temporarily rent the units to cover carrying costs, which is a smart move in today’s economy.”

But Koyn's pitch wasn’t enough to sway the Homewood trustees.

“I could say, just from a neighborhood point of view, people who live in condominiums bought the condominiums because … they were an investment and they chose to do that over living in an apartment building, just like people who buy houses,” Trustee Lisa Purcell said. “You can screen and screen and screen for renters, but that doesn’t mean that they are going to take care of their property. I was a renter for a lot of years before I lived in Homewood, so I’m not bashing all renters, … but I do understand the concerns of people who live there because you want somebody who’s going to invest their money in the property and make sure that it’s well-kept and attractive and that, to me, is what brings up the property values in Homewood.”

Trustee Anne Colton supported Purcell.

“There’s a difference, there really is,” Colton said. “I’ve been a renter, I’ve been an owner. As a renter, I didn’t know my neighbors. As an owner, you better believe I know all my neighbors. I didn’t take the same pride in the property as a renter as I do as an owner.

“The people who own right now bought with the understanding that this is going to be an owner-occupied group of units and for us to do a bait and switch on them right now, I think that would be wrong,” Colton added.

Homewood Village President Richard Hofeld left representatives of Old National Bank with some advice: try more aggressive marketing.

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Gogigi July 12, 2012 at 02:09 PM
I think both the trustees made good points. I, too, was a renter before owning a home and while my grandmother taught me to take pride in our apartment, it' not the same pride I feel when I sit on my patio in my backyard and watch the flowers that I planted grow. The bank is doing what is necessary for the bank, and that is solving it's carrying cost problem -- but they shouldn't be allowed to make their problem our problem. Good job board members - keep Homewood beautiful!
ridgeroadmike July 12, 2012 at 02:19 PM
What do insurance companies say about this? In my condo building, we considered changing our bylaws to allow for rental property. Even on a limited basis, if we reached a certain point, we'd no longer be considered as a condominium building but as rental property with taxes, insurance, etc., skyrocketing to reflect the new reality. We decided not to do that and I think it was the right thing. To force these homeowners now into rental property would be a bait and switch and it shouldn't be allowed without the consent of ALL the owners.
Scotty40 July 12, 2012 at 02:39 PM
How is this a win for the 5 condo owners? The bank is not going to sit on these units. They will be sold at give-away prices (likely half the price that the 5 owners paid). The value of the 5 owned units will now be the same as the 15 sold at bargain basement prices. It is always in the landlord's (whether a bank or private owner) best interest to aggressively screen tenants. If you have a nice unit, with appropriate qualifications- you will bring in nice tenants. I agree with the bank - "the idea of renters bringing crime, vandalism and bad language is merely discriminatory and stereotypical speculation."
lynn michaels July 12, 2012 at 03:01 PM
I live on a street where all the properties are owner occupied except two. The two rental properties are amongst the nicest in the neighborhood. The properties that are a mess are owner occupied!!!!!!!!
Brandon July 12, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Bravo!! I live in a Condo and at one time owners could rent their units. The renters played loud music, you could smell weed in the common area and they just don't think like owners. Not to say that all renters are bad; they aren't. But I prefer to live among home owners.
JP July 12, 2012 at 07:11 PM
Lower the prices, get crafty in financing, have a lottery -- Do the work to get those units sold! -- always the easy way out - eh lets just rent them.... Do the work, ask questions, figure it out! Condo owners are plain and simple excellent residents!
T'sMom July 24, 2012 at 06:21 PM
I finally agree with some of the trustees who represent me and other Homewood citizens regarding rental property in Homewood. The house next door to me was in foreclosure for 4 years, then brought by someone who lives out of state, an absentee owner, who now chose to rent out as Section Eight through HUD, so he has a guarantee of his monthly rent while the neighborhood suffers with inconsiderate renters. There is noise and visitors 24/7 at this rental property during the past year. No village stickers on any of the cars and a vehicle with expired out of state plate in the driveway. I haven’t seen this absentee owner since property was rented a year ago, he could care less about the community while my property is devalued again due to this rental property in our area. There seems to be no rules in Homewood with Section Eight rental properties. There should be a limit on them in the village and they be should monitored with restrictions as this property in particular is not a good reflection upon Homewood’s reputation.

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