Kadner: ‘No loitering’ outside quarry office
By Phil Kadner email@example.com November 8, 2013 7:24PM
Updated: December 11, 2013 6:30AM
You might think a fellow behind a controversial, multimillion-dollar plan to build a limestone quarry and mine in suburban Robbins would do his best to alleviate public concerns about the project.
But that doesn’t seem to be the case with Jim Louthen, managing partner of ALM Resources.
ALM Resources, the development company behind a plan to acquire more than 20 percent of the land in Robbins, is at 50 Forest Ave. in Riverside.
To get there you make a turn off First Avenue (best known as the street that leads to Brookfield Zoo) and a few blocks east of Riverside Brookfield High School you will see what seems to be an old, four-story brown brick apartment building.
There’s a nice courtyard, and the entrance at 50 Forest Ave. leads to a foyer with mailboxes and a telephone to contact tenants if you want to be buzzed through a locked interior door.
ALM Resources is supposed to be in Suite G.
The mailboxes all have names on them, mostly of people, except for one labeled Town Builders Studios.
Town Builders Studios, also owned by Louthen, created Robbins’ comprehensive development plan.
A lawsuit filed by First Midwest Bank claims Louthen owes it $350,000 after defaulting on a loan.
Louthen has said he has worked out a deal with the bank to repay the money.
In any event, there is no listing I could find in the foyer of the building for ALM Resources.
Cook County sheriff’s investigators have opened up an inquiry into the Robbins limestone quarry deal and raised questions about why ALM’s office doesn’t look much like, well, an office.
I saw a notice posted above the mailboxes in the foyer addressed to “Forest Condominium Homeowners” and it tells them a new management company has been hired for the property.
A telephone in the lobby has a digital listing of residents, but I didn’t see any listing for Louthen, ALM or Town Builders.
There was a buzzer beneath the mailbox and I pushed it, but I couldn’t determine if it serves any useful function. There was no response, in any case.
Finally, I called a telephone number for Town Builders Studios using my cellphone and after several rings a woman answered.
I told her I was standing in the lobby and wanted to get inside to see the offices of ALM Resources.
She told me she would put me on hold and try to connect my call to someone from the office.
I asked the woman on the phone where she was located and after a couple of evasive answers she admitted she worked for an answering service.
After a few minutes, my call was transferred and Louthen came on the line.
I told him I am I was standing in the lobby of the apartment building where his office is and wanted to come up and look around but no on seemed to be there.
“That’s right,” Louthen said. “No one’s there. Thank you.” And then he hung up the phone.
I decided to hang around outside the building for a while to see if I could interview any of the other tenants and get some insight into Louthen or ALM Resources.
While standing on the sidewalk in front of the condo building and taking some photographs, I saw a man walking through the parking lot of the building. There are exterior stairs on the side of the building (a sort of rear entrance) leading up to condo unit doors and providing access to the lot for the people who live there.
The man, who was walking a dog, seemed to have come from that direction, so I approached him.
As I drew within a few feet, I recognized the fellow.
It was Louthen. We had met previously while I was covering the Robbins quarry story.
I said hello, introduced myself as the newspaper columnist for the SouthtownStar, and told him I wanted to see his office.
I didn’t mention the conversation on the phone five minutes earlier during which he told me no one was in his office.
“I’m on vacation,” Louthen told me.
I apologized for interrupting his vacation, but suggested perhaps we could go into the building and see his office.
“If you call me and make an appointment, when I am not on vacation, I would be happy to show you the office,” Louthen replied.
He then walked down the street, away from the building, with the dog.
At this point, I called my editor, explained the situation, and we agreed I should hang around a few minutes longer to see if any other tenants came out.
In the meantime, my editor would check the Internet to see if there were other business tenants in the building, check for phone numbers and determine if ALM had some other address.
A couple of minutes later, Louthen returned on foot but without the dog.
“You’re loitering,” Louthen said, pointing to a sign at the entrance to the parking lot that said “private property.”
“This is private property and you are loitering. Why are you here?”
I was standing on the public sidewalk in front of the apartment building and explained I was awaiting instructions from my editor.
I held up my cellphone to emphasize the point.
“This is my community, and we don’t like loiterers,” Louthen continued.
I replied that if Louthen simply took me up to his office and showed me around, I would leave.
Louthen again said he was on vacation.
It turned out Louthen’s vehicle was parked on the street, just a few feet away, and as he walked toward it he said he was leaving now but would be passing by throughout the day and watching to see if I still was loitering.
“You understand me?” Louthen said before entering his vehicle.
I “loitered“ around a few minutes longer before leaving.
I telephoned Louthen’s office twice later in the week and left messages asking for an appointment to see his office.
My calls were not returned.