A downtown Rockford building with a very familiar name faces foreclosure. With some help from our media partners at the Rockford Register Star, we told you Monday the owners of the Morrissey building are doing battle with their bank. Today, we spoke with some of the people this legal fight affects, including two of the building's tenants.
JP Morgan Chase bank filed the complaint in May. Morrissey Realty Group took out two loans in August and October of 2005. The loans came due this February. The bank and Morrissey Realty agreed to a 30 day extension. According to Morrissey's lawyer George Hampilos, when that 30 days was up, the bank decided to foreclose.
The total owed when the suit was filed is about $1.4 million. Every day since May 29th adds roughly another 230 dollars in interest to the total.
Hampilos blames the foreclosure on several things. "Developmental costs were very high in getting the building developed and the market values have steadily decreased over the last few years, as a result of an ailing economy."
The building hasn't been appraised recently, but Hampilos believes the bank chose foreclosure because the building is probably worth less than the loan itself.
The four story property was once home to the Rockford Morning Star. Joe Morrissey, Mayor Larry Morrissey's father, purchased and rehabbed the building.
"He felt very strongly committed to the community which provided him so much that this was his way of giving back," says Hampilos.
The majority of the building is rented out as offices for several small businesses and attorneys like John Palmer and Steven Whitmore.
"Being right downtown is really important for what we do being attorneys and being this close to the courthouse. But also it's a great building," says Palmer.
"I love the building, it's a great location. whether it's the industrial style open ceiling or just the nice wood decor, " adds Whitmore.
Both Whitmore and Palmer say they are not worried their office space is in jeopardy.
"Foreclosures are happening a lot and it happens in the cases I see. The fact that the building is under foreclosure doesn't mean horrible things, it can happen to good people who are trying just as hard," says Whitmore
Palmer says, "I'm relatively confident that they're going to be able to manage through it."
Hampilos also says he is cautiously optimistic they will still be able to keep the property out of foreclosure.
Joe Morrissey also had the building added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1999. Because of this connection, whatever the future holds for the building, it will have to be maintained 'as is' to ensure it's history is preserved.
Mayor Larry Morrissey has no financial interest in this building, he stepped out of the family business just before he took office in 2005.
The attorney representing JP Morgan Chase Bank says couldn't comment on the case just yet.
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