On August 5, 2022, the City of South Beloit, Illinois (the “City”) filed a verified complaint against New Chapter Group, Inc. (“NCG”) seeking an order of demolition and the imposition of municipal fines in connection with the property located at 200 Dearborn Avenue, South Beloit, Illinois – the Garden Hotel and Conference Center (“Garden Hotel”).

On March 28, 2024, a Decision and Order was issued by Winnebago County Circuit Court Judge Ronald Barch in the matter of City of South Beloit, Illinois v. New Chapter Group, Inc., et al., Case Number 2022-MR-307 entering a judgment for in favor of the City and against NCG.

The Court found that NCG had been in violation of numerous City Ordinances at the property in excess of 1,657 days between the date the City first issued its Notice of Violation to NCG and the last day of trial.  The Court held that a fine of $500.00 per day, per code violation, was appropriate due to the volume and duration of the code violations at issue for a commercial property that is located at an intersection that is one of the most prominent and visible intersections in all of South Beloit.  The Court awarded a judgment in favor of the City and against NCG in the amount of $825,500.00 for each of the 10 offenses for a total fine in the amount of $8,825,500.00.

The Court also awarded an additional $5,000.00 per day fine ($500.00 for each of the code violations) for the period of November 15, 2023 through the date of demolition. Finally, the Court granted the City’s request for a demolition order to be executed in 30 days.

“The Garden Hotel and Conference Center has been an eyesore for a number of years.  It has been a priority of both the current City Council under the leadership of Mayor Tom Fitzgerald and the previous City Council under the leadership of former Mayor Ted Rehl to find a way to revitalize this property as it is in the heart of the Stateline.  Under Mayor Ted Rehl’s leadership, a revitalization fund for the City was created with funds that were set aside specifically to revitalize the Garden Hotel property making it one of the City’s top priorities.” says Sonya Hoppes, City Administrator for the City of South Beloit.  Administrator Hoppes continued: “Credit for this outcome must be given to Shawna Henthorn, the City’s Community Development Director and City Attorney Roxanne Sosnowski for all their meticulous hard work and effort that was put in to achieve this outcome.  Shawna Henthorn and Attorney Roxanne Sosnowski spent countless hours both on and off of the clock committed to obtaining an outcome that would be the most beneficial for the people of South Beloit and their hard work has paid off.”

“The City has actively sought compliance with City ordinances from New Chapter Group, Inc. for over five years in an effort to remediate the numerous code violations on the Garden Hotel property.  The Court’s decision will allow for a blighted property in the heart of the City to be remediated. The City is hopeful that the Court’s decision in this case will send a message deterring others from abandoning their duties as commercial property owners.” added City Attorney Roxanne Sosnowski.

Mayor Tom Fitzgerald stated the following “Due to the hard work of our team the City managed to procure an order for demolition of the Garden Hotel.  This property has been an eyesore for the past five years and our staff and legal team has spent significant time working to get the property demolished for the safety of City residents.  I would like to take a moment to say thank you to City staff members and legal team for all of their hard work in making this outcome possible.”