Trio of Wrigley rooftops face foreclosure, as city seeks dismissal of claims over renovations

By Bethany Krajelis | Nov 17, 2014

The owners of three rooftops overlooking Wrigley Field were hit with foreclosure complaints Friday; the same day the city filed a motion to throw out the majority of a lawsuit over its call on the already-underway renovation of the century-old ball park.

Fifth Third Bank filed a pair of complaints in Chicago’s federal court, accusing the owners of the rooftop properties at 3617, 3619 and 3637 N. Sheffield Avenue of failing to make payments on two multi-million dollar mortgages.

Both complaints name the same defendants -- Wrigley Rooftops I LLC; Wrigley Rooftops III LLC, Wrigley Rooftops IV LLC, Thomas Gramatis, Max Waisvisz, Daniel Finkel, The Annex Club LLC and GWR Properties LLC –and assert they owe more than $18 million in principal, interest and fees on their mortgages.

The bank, according to one of its complaints, loaned the defendants $8 million in 2006 to construct two buildings at 3617-3619 N. Sheffield Ave. In the other complaint, the bank says, it gave the defendants $9.2 million in 2008 for the 3637 N. Sheffield Ave. property.

On Oct. 6, Fifth Third Bank claims the defendants failed to make their mortgage payments, which spurred it “to exercise its option to accelerate the maturity of the” loan agreements and “demanded payment in full.”

Notice was given to the defendants on Oct. 10 and as of Oct. 30, they have not paid, the suit states.

The bank says that as of Oct. 30, the amount outstanding on the loan for the 3617-3619 N. Sheffield Ave. property totaled about $7.76 million and the amount on the 3637 N. Sheffield Ave. loan was about $8.03 million. Both totals include in the principal and interest.

It appears from the complaints the defendants also owe at least an additional $1 million in breach of agreement fees and termination costs, which would bring the total amount owed on both mortgages to about $18 million.

The bank is being represented by Steven A. Levy, Roger A. Lewis and Meredith S. Kirshenbaum of Goldberg Kohn Ltd. in Chicago.

Also on Friday, the City of Chicago asked a judge to toss a lawsuit a group of rooftop owners – including the ones now facing foreclosure –brought this summer over the planned renovations to the stadium.

The rooftop owners accused the city and its Commission on Chicago Landmarks of negotiating with Chicago Cubs officials behind closed doors and then rushing the proposed plans through the Landmarks Commission in violation of their constitutional rights to due process and equal protection.

Among other arguments, the rooftop owners claim the renovations, specifically the installation of a Jumbotron, will block views of the field from their properties, violating a 2004 agreement they entered into with the Cubs and effectively putting them out of business.

The Cubs have publicly said the renovations are necessary to the future viability of the ball club and Wrigley Field. The commission approved the plans in July and renovations began last month with the demolition of the bleachers.

The city defendants in September removed the suit, which seeks a reversal of the commission’s stamp of approval on the Cubs’ plans, to federal court and on Friday, asked a judge to dismiss the majority of the complaint’s counts.

In regards to the rooftop owners’ due process claim, the city asserts it needs to be tossed because “views into Wrigley Field are not a constitutionally-protected property interest, which is a necessary element of any due process claim.”

“Moreover,” the city adds, “even if Plaintiffs had a constitutionally-protected property interest, their claim would still fail. Most of their due process theories are undeveloped and unsupported by anything more than conclusory allegations.”

The city defendants further argue for the dismissal of the rooftop owners’ equal protection claim, which is based on the contention the city treated the Cubs more favorably then the rooftop owners by letting the club alter The Friendly Confines.

“This claim fails because Plaintiffs’ rooftop businesses are not similarly situated to Wrigley Field, a historic sports stadium, and even if they were, Defendants had a rational basis for approving the proposed alterations to Wrigley Field," the city defendants assert in their recent filing.

Court records show the city defendants have asked to present their motion to dismiss to U.S. District Judge Amy J. St. Eve on Wednesday and that a status hearing in the case is set for Nov. 24.

The city defendants’ motion to dismiss was submitted by Andrew W. Worseck, David M. Baron and Ellen W. McLaughlin of the city’s Law Department. The rooftop owners are represented by attorneys Thomas S. Moore and Jane F. Anderson of Anderson & Moore P.C. in Chicago.


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Chicago Cubs Baseball Club, Inc. City of Chicago

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