Town and Country hits foreclosure

click to enlarge PHOTO BY STACIE LEWIS
Photo by Stacie Lewis

Town and Country shopping center, one of the largest tracts of retail space on the MacArthur Boulevard corridor, will be turned over to a lender that has filed foreclosure, according to an attorney for an ownership group that includes developer Corky Joyner and Jim Zerkle, Springfield corporation counsel.

Joyner declined comment, referring questions to Greg Sgro, attorney for Town and Country owners. Zerkle could not be reached for comment.

According to foreclosure papers filed in Sangamon County Circuit Court, JP Morgan Chase Bank loaned $13.65 million to the owners in 2015. The bank since has assigned its interest to a trust, according to the lawsuit, and the owners haven’t made payments since January.

Sgro said the matter is to be resolved within a month.

“The Town and Country Shopping Center is being remitted to its lender by agreement,” Sgro wrote in an emailed statement. “The center has experienced significant vacancy due to the general decline in storefront retail, both locally and nationally.”

Sgro said that owners are current with vendors and suppliers.

Between vacant space, the property includes a dollar store, a Chuck E. Cheese and headquarters for the Illinois State Board of Elections. The state is the largest tenant, according to Sgro, and is more than $100,000 behind on rent.

Ward 7 Ald. Joe McMenamin said that foreclosure might not be a bad thing.

“There’s been some long-term dissatisfaction with the ownership of Town and Country shopping center,” McMenamin said.

Michael Higgins, president of the MacArthur Boulevard Association, also was critical of the center’s owners. “It’s never upgraded itself,” Higgins said. “They’ve never taken the time to bring it into the 20th or the 21st or whatever century we’re in.”

Higgins said the site has potential, with or without existing buildings. “It’s probably one of the better properties for any kind of development,” he said. “I know the buildings need help. I just know that the lot provides a lot of potential, a lot of ways to be developed.” The city, Higgins said, hasn’t done enough to make such redevelopment happen.

“The city has to make a decision: Do they want to keep expanding westward? Or do they want to look at the properties that we have within the city and rebuild the core?” Higgins said. “The city has neglected the inner city because it’s much easier and it takes less imagination to build outside.” 

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