Diane Gryglak said she’s prepared to leave her home of 30 years in Riverside Lawn. She’s got a Realtor, she’s identified neighborhoods, and even found a few properties she found suitable.
But like the rest of her neighbors in Riverside Lawn, she can’t make a move until the Cook County Land Bank makes an offer for her property. The land bank has proposed buying out property owners in Riverside Lawn, the triangular-shaped, flood-prone area of unincorporated Riverside Township wedged between a bend in the Des Plaines River and 39th Street.
“Our real estate market is at a standstill,” Gryglak said. “I’ve got neighborhoods picked out and there have been some houses, but I lose them because I can’t make the final call.”
The land bank did appraisals of nearly all the homes in Riverside Lawn last November and told residents that they’d have offers to weigh in January. But January came and went and a meeting between homeowners and land bank officials scheduled for Feb. 24 was cancelled.
Now it looks like property owners are going to have to wait a bit longer, though it’s unclear exactly how long, before they get offers for their properties. Gryglak said she’s reached out to the land bank for information but has come away empty-handed.
“It’s complete uncertainty,” said Gryglak, adding that homeowners aren’t sure whether to tackle home maintenance projects, not knowing whether the home is going to be sold and demolished in a matter of months.
“It keeps dragging out,” she said.
Rob Rose, executive director of the Cook County Land Bank, told the Landmark last week that the holdup was due to a delay in getting both the land bank and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District to approve the intergovernmental agreement to secure $12 million in federal funding for the buyout.
A sticking point in the negotiations over that agreement was the MWRD’s insistence that the land bank get two appraisals for the Riverside Lawn properties. Rose said the Cook County Land Bank will be scheduling the second round of appraisals with homeowners.
Rose said he hoped that the land bank and MWRD could meet with Riverside Lawn residents later this month, but no firm date had been scheduled as of late last week.
“Hopefully the MWRD will be available [later in March] so we can get back in front of everyone,” Rose said.
Meanwhile, at least one property changed hands in late December, when a bank-owned property on Gladstone Avenue was sold to Robert Sobczak, a Brookfield resident.
Sobczak said he had not heard of the county’s buyout program before buying the home, which had been vacant for a number of years. He had planned on putting a second story on the bungalow and moving there with his wife while renting out the home he owns in Brookfield.
Now he’s not sure what to do.
“I don’t know if it makes sense to invest the money,” said Sobczak.