Elgin has filed a lawsuit that could allow the city to demolish the former bowling alley along Woodview Drive unless the property’s owners improve the site or demolish the building themselves. (Mike Danahey / The Courier-News)
has taken legal steps intended to speed up getting a long-closed east side bowling alley in major disrepair either demolished, rehabilitated or replaced.
After filing a court complaint last month, Elgin Community Development Director Marc Mylott met with one of the owners of the building Tuesday morning.
According to documents requested by the Courier-News, on April 21, the city filed a complaint in the Kane County Circuit Court against the current owners of what was at one time Woodview Lanes and Espo’s Country Lanes before that. The building, 11 Woodview Drive, is not far from Route 19 and the city-owned Eastside Recreation Center.
The site’s owners are noted to be the Glorious Life Worship Center Church of God of Prophecy of Blue Island and The Miami Council for Church and Social Action. According to Cook County Recorder of Deeds records, the church groups obtained the property from Mervyn and Steven Dukatt in a quit claim deed filed Dec. 5, 2012.
Contacted by phone Tuesday, Glorious Life Worship Center Pastor Pagel Williams said he could not go into detail beyond saying that he was in negotiations with the city and with potential other developers about what to do with the site. Options were open for discussion at this point, Williams said, and could include demolition, rebuilding and selling the site.
The complaint noted that "a large portion of the roof on the subject property has collapsed and the structure is otherwise in extreme disrepair, such that it is dangerous to the life, health, property, and safety of the public or occupants of the structure, and is otherwise so damaged, decayed, dilapidated, or structurally unsafe that further partial or complete collapse is possible."
Among other claims made by Elgin in the court document are that the owners failed to maintain the bowling alley’s electrical system, its mechanical appliances, plumbing and its fire alarm and sprinkler system. The complaint added that the city found the property "is so dilapidated and in a state of disrepair as to be dangerous, unsafe, insanitary or otherwise unfit for human habitation or occupancy."
Because of the building’s poor condition, on Dec. 6 the city put up 522-feet of 6-foot-tall chain link fencing around the property at a cost of $1,431 to the city, the document states.
The complaint seeks a temporary and permanent injunction be issued requiring the property owners either to correct the host of issues or demolish the structure. It asks the court to appoint a receiver and "that an order entering judgment against the Defendants and granting the City the authority to demolish the structure on the Subject Property and file lien on the property for the demolition costs …under its police power to protect the public health and safety, be entered."
It also seeks compensation for the costs of putting up the fence and attorney’s fees.
The complaint came after Mylott sent the owners a letter in February 2016 in response to an application for a business license and for occupancy. The letter notes the plans for the property included using the location for providing religious instruction to groups of up to 350 people, along with bowling, indoor football and soccer, arts programming and a ministry area.
Mylott explained in the letter that the site was not zoned for the uses the owners had in mind and noted the steps that would have to be taken to seek a map amendment needed for the effort to move forward.
Tuesday, Mylott said that during that February, parts of the old bowling alley roof blew off the building during a period of heavy winds.
"It got more and more messy," Mylott said. He also said that there had been occasional reports of people trespassing onto the property over the years since it has sat empty.
The lanes closed in late 2011. According to police reports, in March 2012, there was a fire in the doorway of the vacant building, but firefighters were able to keep the fire from spreading into the interior. The structure held 40 bowling lanes along with a lounge and banquet area.
Mylott said the city never heard back from anyone past the letter sent almost 15 months ago, so did not know what anyone’s intentions were.
Given the conditions of the building, that led to the Elgin Community Development Department sending the building owners and lien holders letters on March 31 informing those parties that unless the property was made safe or demolished within 15 days, Elgin would be taking the measures it wound up taking in court.
Mylott said Williams showed up at the Community Development Department unexpectedly, without an appointment Tuesday morning to discuss matters. Mylott said he recommended Williams set up a meeting with the city’s legal department and put together an action plan for the property.
The city will be hoping for the best and preparing for the worst, Mylott said, meaning Elgin would still go ahead with court matters concerning the demolition in case issues with Williams and the other property owners couldn’t be resolved.