State Supreme Court rules in favor of Joliet over Evergreen Terrace taxes

Joliet — The Illinois Supreme Court ruled in favor of the City of Joliet this week, sparing the city from having to pay over $6 million in collected property taxes back to the owners of the Evergreen Terrace apartment complex.

The city originally filed a condemnation complaint against the property in 2005, but did not acquire ownership of the property through eminent domain until 2017 due to legal challenges.

Throughout the 12 years of court proceedings, the property owners, MB Financial Bank, continued to operate the property as usual and paid property taxes to the city on it without objection, according to a news release from Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow announcing the court’s decision.

In 2018, after the city took control of the property, MD Financial filed suit against the city, claiming that it should have the $6 million in taxes it paid between the original condemnation complaint and the city’s seizure of the property refunded.

A statue is pictured outside of the Illinois Supreme Court building in Springfield.

The Supreme Court rejected that claim unanimously on Tuesday, writing “it would be unreasonable to find that the plaintiffs are relieved from having to pay any of the property taxes that accrued during that time.”

In the statement released Tuesday, Joliet Mayor Terry D’Arcy said, “It would have been a devastating blow to the City of Joliet had it been ordered to refund over $6 million lawfully collected between 2005 and 2017. On behalf of the citizens of Joliet, I applaud the decision reached by the Supreme Court that protects our citizens by requiring the MB Financial to accept responsibility for paying property taxes throughout the period it owned the Evergreen Terrace property.”

“This ruling is a literal fiscal bonanza for taxpayers,” Glasgow said, adding, “The ruling is a just and equitable victory for the taxpayers of Joliet since MB Financial Bank, not the City of Joliet, continued using and profiting from the property until the city took possession.”

Last month, the city council approved plans for demolition and redevelopment of the the low-income housing complex, now known as Riverwalk Homes, a project that has been in the works since 2018.

Under the plan, the number of apartments on the property will be reduced from 356 to 177.

The plan is part of a settlement agreement reached with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which had been among those opposed to the city in its lengthy condemnation case to take the property away from private owners.

In the news release Tuesday, Glasgow thanked to assistant state’s attorney Scott Pyles and attorney Kathy Sons of Kavanagh Grumley & Gorbold, LLC for their work representing the treasurer and other taxing bodies in Will County on this case.