A longstanding vacant property in the city of Urbana is headed to a sheriff’s sale as part of its foreclosure process.
During a special meeting of the Champaign County Board of Revisions held Tuesday, government officials from the county and city of Urbana discussed the foreclosure process of the former Q3 JMC Inc. property, 605 Miami St.
During a hearing on the foreclosure held last week, Champaign County Assistant Prosecutor Jane Napier said evidence of the property’s value was presented including the Champaign County auditor’s valuation of over $900,000.
Champaign County Prosecutor Kevin Talebi said because the auditor’s valuation of the property was as high as it was in relation to the taxes owed, the board could not legally perform an expedited foreclosure where the property would be immediately transferred to the city.
Talebi said the board would still move forward with the foreclosure process and the next step involves listing the property for sheriff’s sale. No final date for when a sheriff’s sale would take place was given but Talebi estimated it would be listed no later than Sept. 12.
“What will end up happening is if anyone from the public is capable of coming and purchasing the property at the minimum bid (of $268,379.30) … then the property could be purchased outright for that amount of money and then the transfer would take place through a sheriff’s deed and be transferred to the successful bidder,” Talebi explained.
Talebi said if the property does not sell at the sheriff’s sale, the city would have two ways of taking the property directly. One would involve the city taking the property subject to the back taxes and fees owed and the other scenario would involve the city requesting for back taxes to be forgiven causing the board of revision to hold a hearing to decide whether to forgive those taxes.
The board approved establishing the minimum bid of the property and the parcels that would be sold.
During their presentation, city officials handed out a summary detailing the city’s ongoing redevelopment of the property. The property has been vacant since 2008 causing the city to use nuisance abatement, police monitoring due to theft and receive trespass complaints, and deal with fire and utility concerns due to water line leaks or breaks and a non-operational fire suppression system.
The city’s handout notes that in addition to these public health and safety concerns, the city’s environmental investigations of the property showed the property has significant areas of soil and ground water contamination making it unlikely the property can be returned to productive use without several million dollars in environmental cleanup and demolition.
While the city has developed a funding model for the demolition and remediation costs that would allow the city to recover as much redevelopment costs as possible, with a gap of $1.4 million, the city anticipates that any additional financial burdens will jeopardize the project moving forward.
Within the handout, city officials also state that two local businesses have expressed interest in portions of the property for expansion of their existing operations, but only after environmental issues, delinquent taxes and other barriers to redevelopment are resolved. The city stressed both companies have indicated the space is needed soon or they will look elsewhere for expansion needs.
Urbana Director of Administration Kerry Brugger said the city’s intent with the redevelopment project is to walk away from the process for the betterment of the community by putting the property back into productive use while eliminating a public nuisance and eyesore.
Brugger said multiple county offices have had opportunities to address the property but chose not to and pushing the redevelopment process back further could cause problems. One particular issue would be the dealing with groundwater contamination and cleanup of the southernmost portion of the property. Brugger stressed cleanup has to occur in November or December.
Talebi said an expedited foreclosure was a process the county and board of revisions aggressively pursued but because of the appraisal value, the board is not able to legally move forward with this kind of process.
As of Tuesday, the Q3 JMC property was the highest delinquent taxpayer in the county, according to information provided by the auditor’s office.