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.