By Tim Hadac
Southwest Chicago Post
Hundreds of Southwest Side properties are at risk of being sold at auction in May, unless their back taxes are paid.
Lists released last week by Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas show that the large majority of the properties are residential—but there are a handful of noteworthy business properties that are said to be in arrears.
Perhaps most striking is the Cicero Hotel (formerly
Sportsman’s Inn), 4501 South Cicero, which reportedly is more than $207,000 behind in taxes and interest.
Once a seedy motel scorned by local civic leaders and hauled into court by local aldermen, the Cicero Hotel (under new ownership) has been undergoing a slow-moving renovation for several years and now boasts a selection of rehabbed rooms with all new beds and other furniture.
A message left for the hotel’s owner was not returned.
Other Southwest Side properties reportedly behind in taxes include:
• 6806, 6810 and 6812 W. Archer, which together are said to be more than $15,000 in the hole. The first was until recently home to A Cup of Joe coffee shop. The other two are the storefront home of the VDSA private security and detective agency. The properties’ owners are listed as two members of the Shubert family (the A Cup of Joe storefront is the former decades-long home of Shubert Draperies).
• Two blocks west, the property at 7023 West Archer is listed as more than $5,500 behind. The owner is Andrzej Korniejczuk, and the address is home to Halina’s Pub.
• Four connected properties, 5842-8 West 63rd St., appear to be more than $10,000 behind in taxes, in sum. The owner is Hickory Hills resident Jerome McDonald, according to Pappas’ list. In recent years, the site was home to Nu-Way Cleaners.
• Ten connected properties, 5932-56 S. Central, about $18,000 delinquent, all told, owned by an LLC with unnamed owners.
• The Acero Marquez School, 47th and Francisco, more than $90,000 delinquent.
• Four storefront properties—4622-30 S. Cicero, owned by S. Sheikh of suburban Lemont—which together are more than $3,800 in the hole.
In all, some 57,000 property owners across Cook County owe nearly $190 million in delinquent taxes, according to Pappas. Those properties may be auctioned at the annual tax sale that begins May 3.
Lists of all the properties, by suburban municipality and city ward, are published on the Cook County Treasurer's website.
“I am asking religious leaders, community groups and elected officials to use these lists to see if they know any of these homeowners with delinquent taxes and alert them about the Tax Sale,” Pappas said. “With their help, we will get many homes off the Tax Sale list.”
Among the properties with delinquent taxes:
• Nearly 21,000 owners may be unaware of the Tax Sale because the U.S. Postal Service has returned their bills and subsequent notices.
• About 22,000 owe $1,000 or less.
• More than 2,000 homes are probably owned by senior citizens.
• As many as 900 seniors would see their homes removed from the Tax Sale if they applied for property tax exemptions they qualify for.
Homeowners can avoid the Tax Sale by paying all delinquent taxes and interest before the sale begins. To see if your taxes are delinquent—and to make a payment—visit cookcountytreasurer.com and select “Avoid the Tax Sale.”
Reaction from Southwest Side homeowners quizzed at the West Lawn Branch Library was a mix of surprise and anger.
“This is amazing,” said Estela Reyes. “If you had asked me how many are behind on their property taxes (countywide), I would have said a thousand or so. But 57,000? Unreal.”
Ryszard Markowski said the list “makes me angry. I always pay my taxes on time, every year. Why do these deadbeats get away with it?”
Sheila Brown said she understands why some homeowners fall behind on their taxes “because when you have to put food on the table, sometimes tax bills have to wait. But I look at that figure ($190 million) and I wonder how many things in government don’t get funded because of that.”