New life may be coming to the SoHo development, the parcel left in limbo at the corner of South Boulevard and Home Avenue for years.
While the main SoHo Condominium building that faces South Boulevard is completed, only three of the 11 units are occupied. The remaining construction of the adjacent buildings facing Home Avenue was never completed after the project fell into bankruptcy.
Village Manager Cara Pavlicek announced at a recent village board meeting that Merit Bank, the owner of the SoHo project, is selling the unfinished development. Five offers for the property are under consideration.
Pavlicek also reported the bank will decide whether it should secure its rights and reinstate the building permits themselves or have the new developer complete that process.
Village Planner Craig Failor said the potential buyers have indicated they plan to complete the development as originally proposed, possibly with a few minor tweaks. It’s undetermined if the condos, which are designed for owners, will be available as rental units.
Failor said a Plan Commission hearing is necessary to reinstate or amend the building permit process before construction can begin because of the time lapse. The process would include a public hearing to alert the occupants of the one developed building and other nearby residents about the scope of the work.
According to Ferdinand Isserman, president of the SoHo Condominium Association, the three SoHo condo owners pay their share of property taxes, but the village hasn’t acknowledged that people live there.
“The Soho Condominium is a well-built attractive condominium building that has been our home for almost three years,” he wrote in an email. “The three members have worked hard to take care of their property and their building.”
He said they receive phone calls weekly from people looking to move in, but the village has not helped promote the properties or offered assistance.
“Nobody from the village has ever called us,” Isserman said in a follow-up interview. “Nobody.”
The downfall of the SoHo project, which was initially going to consist of 17 townhomes, 15 condominiums and first-floor commercial space, began in 2010 when the bank funding the project was shut down. The condominium part of the project has 11 units and nine garage spaces; six of the units are unfinished. Two of the units are used as model apartments and were once rented out by Merit Bank.
According to Isserman, the original developer presented the idea of townhomes on South Boulevard to the village, but it was determined that townhomes do not belong on a commercial street. Therefore, he said, a condominium building was proposed and accepted.
Still, only a few of the units were ever purchased. Tied up in a slew of financial issues, the property was eventually foreclosed on and transferred into the hands of Merit Bank.
Failor said the village doesn’t know the identities of any of the interested developers but indicated the project could move forward this year.