Joliet Junior College officials are seeking about $22,434 in legal fees owed in connection with a student housing complex but are blaming a court-appointed receiver for blocking payment.
In a motion filed Thursday, JJC attorney Carl Buck requested a Will County judge approve the payment of $22,434 owed by Foundation Housing, a company created by the JJC Foundation to operate Centennial Commons, a six-building student housing complex that’s now under the control of Drew Millard, a court-appointed receiver.
Buck’s motion claimed Millard “blocked the payment and refuses to approve the payment.”
Calls to Buck and Millard were not returned Friday.
The legal fees were incurred by Foundation Housing to obtain real estate tax exempt status for Centennial Commons, the motion stated. The company has tried to pay the balance to JJC officials and there are “sufficient funds to pay the sum due.”
Centennial Commons, which opened in 2002 to provide housing for JJC students, was put under the control of Millard, a principal for 33 Realty, after years of losses that appear to have left the complex riddled with debt.
In Millard’s first report on his receivership submitted in court, he stated three of the six buildings are vacant, in either below average or poor condition and utilities have been shut off. He said three other buildings were at 39 percent occupancy and expected that to sink to 10 percent.
The complex is staffed with only a part-time manager and onsite engineer to cut costs, according to the report. Five tenants were reportedly behind on their rent.
Centennial Commons never generated the revenue JJC and foundation officials envisioned when the apartments were built under an arrangement that bypassed restrictions barring community colleges from owning and operating student housing.
The rents would cover the cost of operations, pay off the $14.3 million in bonds that financed construction, and generate the $1 million to pay JJC for the land. But profits that were to pay for the land and the bonds never came.
JJC board Chairman Robert Wunderlich has said the college was supposed to be paid back from profits from Centennial Commons. However, the college “never got a dime,” he said.
Because it was never paid for the land, JJC has a lien on Centennial Commons, Wunderlich said. But he does not expect the college to see the $1 million the foundation was to have paid for the land.