Lincoln Mall receiver gets $100K more for repairs
By Casey Toner firstname.lastname@example.org September 6, 2013 4:34PM
The east end of Lincoln Mall remains a demolition site. Village inspectors cited this as a code violation. | Photo: Casey Toner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 9, 2013 7:53PM
A Cook County judge on Friday ordered the owner of Lincoln Mall to pay the court-appointed mall receiver another $100,000 to continue making safety-related repairs to the property.
Last month, Circuit Court Judge Thomas Condon appointed Collateral Trustee Inc. as the Matteson mall’s receiver to oversee daily operations and address safety issues that had prompted the village to file a lawsuit against the mall owner, Lincoln Mall Holding LLC.
In its lawsuit, Matteson asked a judge to close the indoor mall, U.S. 30 and Cicero Avenue, and appoint a receiver to address issues such as exposed wiring, a crumbling foundation and blocked fire exits, among others.
Collateral Trustee owner John Suzuki said in court Friday that he had spent the $100,000 that Lincoln Mall Holding had wired to the village under a prior court order to pay for electrical and carpentry repairs as well as payroll, mall operations and receiver fees.
Suzuki told the judge that $100,000 more was needed to install panic bars on all emergency exit doors and to prepare architectural plans for a fire stairs and two more emergency exits. He said it may cost an additional $150,000 to install the fire stairs and emergency exits, which should remedy most of the major safety issues at the mall.
Suzuki reported that the rental income from mall merchants is insufficient, with the mall losing about $100,000 a month, and Lincoln Mall Holding owes about $1.5 million in unpaid property tax for the past two years.
Michael Aschenbrener, an attorney representing Lincoln Mall Holding, argued that there was no more money to give the receiver.
“You can’t squeeze blood from a turnip,” Aschenbrener said. “Lincoln Mall operates at a deficit. My client is not reaping huge rewards and collecting great money from the rent. Now the village wants more money from nothing.”
John Kennedy, an attorney representing Matteson, said Lincoln Mall Holding and its owner Mike Kohan have given the village the “yabba dabba” when it comes to correcting the mall’s safety problems.
“We have gotten a wave of finesse from this owner,” Kennedy said. “Mr. Suzuki did more in a weekend than Mr. Kohan did in a year and a half.”
After a 15-minute break, Condon granted the receiver’s request for the money, saying that fixing the mall’s fire and safety violations is a priority because it gives the 50 tenants “a chance to enjoy the American dream.”
Lincoln Mall Holding is to pay the money to Collateral Trustee within two weeks. The case next is due in court Oct. 4 at the county courthouse in Markham.