Palos Hills would like to see former health club site to be developed

  • Written by Michael Gilbert

Palos Hills officials are hoping to meet with the new owner of the site that formally housed the Palos Olympic Health & Racquetball Club to get a better grasp of what is in store for the vacant 1.8-acre property.

Palos Hills Building Commissioner Paul Hardison told the city council Aug. 18 the property at 11050 S. Roberts Road was sold within the last 30 days but attempts to contact the new owner have so far proved futile.

“We’ve sent him letters and I phoned him and left voicemail messages but we haven’t been able to contact him,” Hardison told the council. “We have no idea what his intensions are (with the property).”

The property has been void of business since the racquetball club closed approximately nine years ago, Palos Hills Mayor Gerald Bennett said. City Attorney George Pappas told Hardison he will also reach out to the new owner in an attempt to find out what he has planned for the property.

The building that once housed the racquetball club remains on the site although Bennett said it is in poor condition and would almost certainly need to be demolished when redevelopment of the property occurs.

“The biggest problem over there is that we believe the only way that property is going to be developed is that the building has to come down,” Bennett said. “It’s obsolete and because of the size of the building there is no way you are going to try to rehab it.”

The property is best suited for residential as it does not appear to be large enough to support commercial, Bennett said.

“The end goal is to have somebody come in, purchase the property and come to us with a proposal,” Bennett said. “More than likely we are leaning toward residential like multi-family homes or townhouses because we don’t think it is big enough for a commercial development.

“Until that happens we are sitting there with people flipping that property back and forth. Hopefully someone will come to us with a serious proposal.”

The property has been sold several times since the racquetball club closed and Bennett said the back taxes on the property are now around $160,000.

“You could probably purchase the property for nothing now but $160,000 is the value of the back taxes, plus we have liens on it that are probably up to about $10,000 for having to maintain it at times,” Bennett said.

Another issue hampering the redevelopment of the site is the cost of demolishing the building, which Bennett said could cost around $80,000. The building was built around 40 years ago, he said.

“It’s kind of frustrating because personally I really believe that once the building comes down somebody can then come in and take a look and decide what can be done,” Bennett said. “Certainly a continuation of the townhomes in that area would work out the best.”

Earlier this summer Hardison said there was a problem with teenagers going inside the building but that issue has since subsided as the prior owner put up a fence around the property and also installed surveillance cameras.

Bennett said if “worse comes to worst” and no one moves into the property the city may take a look at having the building condemned and then pay to tear it down. Palos Hills would then check with Cook County to see if the tax situation could be alleviated, purchase the property and then resell it.

In other news, Ald. Dawn Nowak (5th Ward) told the council five new businesses have been approved along Roberts Road. They are: café casino Doddy’s, 10602 S. Roberts Road; My Med Pharmacy, 9838 S. Roberts Road; SSAID Services, 10612 S. Roberts Road; Studio Cuts, 10148 S. Roberts Road and salon Be-You- Tiful, 10707 S. Roberts Road.