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Tanna Farms in Foreclosure? An Anti-MIll Creek Apartment Argument that Might've Worked!

The Tanna Farms Golf Club financial woes might have been a reason to argue against apartments in Mill Creek, after all.

The folks I’ve spoken with told me the handwriting was on the wall, but it still comes as somewhat of a surprise that the is headed into foreclosure. If you didn’t already know, the golf course in question sits in the southwest corner of the unincorporated Mill Creek subdivision made semi-infamous by a couple of my columns here.

The legal papers were filed July 6 and, in another surprising twist, Shodeen Management is prominently named as a defendant. This interesting development makes one wonder whether his company or Kent Shodeen himself made some sort of personal guarantee on the project.

The next court date is Sept. 28.

But what really amazes me about this story is, while all those Mill Creekians we’re ranting, raving, shrieking and howling about the prospect of lowly renters encroaching upon their sacred (and virtually all-white) domain, they actually had a solid argument to fend off those now 290 apartments that will be coming into the northwest corner of their subdivision.

Think about it!

What if, instead of whining about “a higher crime rate,” not wanting “those people” walking their streets, and saying rental units “aren’t in line with the neighborhood,” Mill Creekians fought that development based on Shodeen Management’s deteriorating track record?

Granted, a source put me onto this story, but the truth is, it took all of five seconds to come up with the details on the Court Clerk’s website. Simply enter “Tanna Farms” in the name field, click the search button and voila! You can review the entire case history.

In addition to that tidbit, another source told me the GreenFields, that Mill Creek retirement living facility you can see from Keslinger Road, isn’t doing too well, either. If the source is correct, the assisted living section is virtually vacant and the other side isn’t selling that well either

But this one isn’t a shock. Who thought setting a bunch of old folks, who probably shouldn’t be driving, out in the middle of nowhere was a good idea? By contrast The Crossings at Geneva is directly adjacent to Delnor Community Hospital and the Geneva Commons.

And the GreenFields situation isn’t likely to improve any time soon.

Now that the originally intended 210,000 square feet of Mill Creek retail space is slated for apartments, for the same reasons those homeowners balked at rental units, the GreenFields is going to have a hard time attracting new buyers.

The whole point was supposed to be those retired folks could walk right on over to those impending stores. Apartments don’t hold quite the same sway.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not guaranteeing a win here, but had those irate Mill Creekians taken this tack, they would’ve had a much better shot at coming out on top. These are exactly the kind of contentions the County Board pays attention to because they’ve been forced to clean up far too many developer messes these days.

Sadly, as a culture, we’re too busy shrieking about “those people,” gossiping about ulterior motives, coming up with conspiracy theories, and discussing who’s in whose pocket because it’s much more fun and it doesn’t require all that much work.

For the record, I did leave a detailed message with Mr. Shodeen’s assistant to get his side of the story, but that effort failed to bear fruit.

Though I’m convinced it’s just another case of spittin’ in the wind, I’m gonna throw caution into the wind say it one more time. There’s a really important lesson for anyone who wants to fight City Hall here.

Instead of wasting your time terrifying your neighbors with baseless fears, do your research! C’mon! All it takes is a few keystrokes to get your hands on all sorts of legal/governmental documents in the digital era.

Instead of engaging in the kind of conspiracy theories that makes your County Board member think you’re a nutcase, assemble the facts. Village and county boards are inundated with shriekers, so they simply tune them out.

And by the way, don’t threaten to vote them out of office and/or accuse them they’re in someone’s pocket—even if it’s true. You need a meeting of the minds to prevail, and personal attacks make that virtually impossible.

So, Mill Creekers! You actually had a worthy argument against those apartments and you blew it!

Kate Bennett September 13, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Jeff, we keep agreeing on things like this and I may have to get creative. I am, by the way, of the opinion that Shodeen is the devil himself. I wouldn't buy anything he built, nor rent anything he managed. The mans been doing his best to build a slum in the tri-cities for 30 years. Let's just hope STC keeps holding the line and doesn't let him build apartments on the old mall lot.
Jeff Ward September 13, 2012 at 02:49 PM
Chris, I hope I didn't give readers the wrong impression! Yes! It was Shodeen's idea to bail on the retail and go for apartments. Mill Creek residents have always wanted those now unplanned stores. Jeff
Jeff Ward September 13, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Jeff, Don't tell me someone out in Millcreekia didn't have their suspicions especially when T. F. Boonies closed down. All the people I talked to about the golf course foreclosure replied, "I'm not at all surprised." Jeff
Jeff Ward September 13, 2012 at 02:55 PM
Kate, This is why you should never judge a columnist by one column. BTW, readers, I got the word from the same source today that Kent Shodeen did, indeed, offer a personal Tanna Farms guarantee to the tune of $40 million. Though it's a matter of public record, for some strange reason, that part of the foreclosure lawsuit was filed in federal court which made it more difficult to find. As far as Mr. Shodeen goes, what's that Chinese curse? "May you live in interesting times." Jeff
Debra September 13, 2012 at 03:03 PM
There are so many mistakes, inaccuracies, mis-information and yellow journalism in your column it's hard to know why Patch even lets you post anything.
Sandy Klimowski September 13, 2012 at 03:10 PM
I'm not going to get into any debate about Mr. Shodeen. I, and many fine Geneva residents, live in Geneva East. I DO NOT live in a slum, the neighborhood is not a slum and I take offense to being labeled as living in a Shodeen slum.
Jeff Ward September 13, 2012 at 03:14 PM
And this from someone who doesn't use their full name and offers no countermanding facts. I did my homework, the source was impeccable, I went over the foreclosure case with the Court Clerk herself, and I gave Mr. Shodeen and his management company every opportunity to explain their side of the story and he/they chose not to. Jeff
Jeff Ward September 13, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Sandy, Slum is a strong word, but I could tell you horror stories about their more recent construction. Though in all fairness, that's true of most home builders these days. Jeff
Samantha What September 13, 2012 at 03:18 PM
I do have laugh at your line "You need a meeting of the minds to prevail, and personal attacks make that virtually impossible." Every article you write about Mill Creek is a personal attack. I don't live in Mill Creek but think it is a great community for young families.
Jeff Ward September 13, 2012 at 03:23 PM
Samantha, Whoa, whoa, whoa! The standard for a lunatic opinion columnist and someone arguing their point at a city council meeting are two entirely different things. As the Zen folks likes to say, I'm not worried whether anyone in Mill Creek takes my advice or not. I put it out there and let it go! Jeff
Kate Bennett September 13, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Sorry, I should have phrased that better. I was referring, specifically, to Shodeen's apartments on the west side of St. Charles. Also, I have a couple of friends who live in Shodeen houses. Those who live in the newer ones have nothing but complaints. Those who live in the older ones seem very happy.
Karen September 13, 2012 at 04:57 PM
If you read the circuit clerk's web page you can see that the matter is under appeal. So the foreclosure action is stayed. Check with the 2nd District Appellate Court.
Scott September 13, 2012 at 05:09 PM
"while all those Mill Creekians we’re ranting, raving, shrieking and howling about the prospect of lowly renters encroaching upon their sacred (and virtually all-white) domain" Did you also do some research on the demographic of Mill Creek or is that an expert observation on your part ? "But this one isn’t a shock. Who thought setting a bunch of old folks, who probably shouldn’t be driving, out in the middle of nowhere was a good idea?" When did you become an authority on who should or shouldn't drive ? and Oh my goodness ! Did you just say what I think you just said ? WHERE THEY SHOULD LIVE ? UH OH ! Did Mr. Ward just expose himself as having the same bigoted view towards the elderly that he has been stigmatizing Mill Creek residents as for the last couple of months towards renters. Really Mr. Ward ! It’s awesome how you hide behind a key board and spew your venom like those who choose to use text messaging and email to say things they wouldn't dream of saying to someone fact to face. To the management at the Patch who continue to let this columnist defame a community of good, kind, and generous people. Shame on you. You should all be fired along with Mr. Ward. With respect to Mill Creek, What Mr. Ward writes is neither journalism nor opinion. It’s just plain crap.
matt September 13, 2012 at 05:18 PM
Jeff Did you go to any of the meetings about the apartments? Shodeen has the approval to build 200+ apartments in Mill Creek tomorrow if they wanted too. No resident is trying to stop those. The main objection was the residents wanted Shodeen to build those first before the county handed over another 390 at Shodeen discretion. (the number of additional units he went for) The fact that the county board was going to give a builder the authority to make a major change for additional apartments before they even started to build the already approved apartments was and is a legitimate concern. That was the residents main point. Are you for letting a builder determine the amount of units vs the county on a controlled basis? You continue to lie which is sad journalism.
J.O. September 13, 2012 at 06:22 PM
Agreed - I still don't understand why the County would allow a change in the plan when the original plan with the apartments near Mill Creek Market haven't even been completed. If you've got 100% occupancy - fill that up and when you are done with that come and change the commercial space. Heck - commercial space may be necessary by then. It was that and the way they went about trying to change the zoning (with the comical suggestion that people would walk to the La Fox station) which rubbed people the wrong way. Were there a few squakers blathering about non-sequiturs? Of course. That's not all of MC. Funny - Tanna Farms GC was always the one better maintained than Mill Creek GC. Just didn't have the pre-golf stuff MC has.
Chris September 13, 2012 at 07:35 PM
SHODEEN...Finish what you start befor going on to other unwanted projects. Why would he spend all of that money to get the plans drawn up and passed through the county??? Spend your Money on what you started...
Jeff Ward September 13, 2012 at 07:39 PM
Karen, I'm guessing you're not a lawyer. The fact that it's being appealed means it had to actually go into foreclosure first. And until the appeals court rules otherwise, it's in foreclosure. There's no stay, absolution or forgiveness. And I'm guessing the appeal is simply a ply to buy time to come up with another financing plan. Right now, the golf course is $3 million in arrears and no appeal changes that. Jeff
Jeff Ward September 13, 2012 at 07:42 PM
Matt, Lie???? I ain't the one lying here. Your contention about the previous apartment is/was an excellent one, but it was drowned out by the absurd arguments we've been discussing. To say "it was the resident's main point" is about as mendacious as it gets. Their main point was to go after the renters and not the project itself and it didn't work. Jeff
matt September 13, 2012 at 11:28 PM
Jeff Why wont you admit you were not at any of the meetings?
matt September 13, 2012 at 11:32 PM
Jeff If you were at the meetings you would have seen the point about building the previous apartments was said repeatedly. You also would have seen our county board rep. Drew Frasz not even hear the point about the apartments as it was said repeatedly.
Rick Nagel (Editor) September 14, 2012 at 12:36 AM
I deleted comments by James.
Jeff Ward September 14, 2012 at 12:00 PM
Matt, I know it's hard to believe, but I actually have a life beyond this and was AFK (away from keybord) well into yesterday evening. No! I did not attend any of the meetings because I could not come up with the appropriate body guard. But I did talk to County Board Member Drew Frasz at length about the meetings, the emails he received on the subject, and how the rest of the county board felt about this issue. But for sake of argument, let's say you absolutely convinced Drew of your point of view. That's a good first step, but it doesn't mean a thing because there are 26 county board members. In order to prevail, you had to persuade 14 of them (the chairman would've broken a tie in favor of Shodeen). The folks opposed to the apartments needed to form a spokesgroup who needed to attend a full county board meeting who needed to make their cogent point about the previously existing/planned apartments there. Even if Drew didn't buy that argument, the rest of 'em might have. Jeff
Interested Observer September 14, 2012 at 04:54 PM
apparently points weak on the merits required resort to the race card.
Koshka September 14, 2012 at 05:11 PM
The current real estate valuation environment would find more value in apartment permits than commercial/retail permits. Residential rents are rising. Commercial rents are falling. In a refinancing process, apartments - even phantom but permuted ones - have more value in the equation. I suspect this may be why commercial/retail space is being ditched and apartments substituted. In terms of community development, such over concentration of residential housing without supporting commercial, retail and services development is very bad policy. The first time I saw the monster elderly housing going up I laughed at the stupidity until I cried. Then I cried.
Koshka September 14, 2012 at 05:18 PM
I predict with a fairly high degree of confidence that in time Mill Creek will have section 8 housing available. Where ever you sit on the political spectrum that fact will alter the social dynamic of Geneva, St Charles and La Fox. You might think a positive change or a negative change but it will be a very big change. I have lived in two communities that under went this change over time. In the big picture you might think it is for the best but I can assure you it is not fun going through it at all and on the other side what used to be, for better or worse, is just a memory. Start your scrap books and remember your stories of how it used to be and start planning for your future be it with excitement or trepidation.
Koshka September 14, 2012 at 05:19 PM
it may be tough to accept and preferable to ignore but race is part of the story.
Matt September 14, 2012 at 06:05 PM
Jeff 1) At the meeting Drew said it was his district and whatever he voted the rest of the board would go along with. 2) at the first meeting there were 3 members of the county board, at the second only Drew came. How do you vote without hearing concerns unless Drew is correct that he will decide how the board vites? 3) Drew was predisposed to give Shodeen apartments. Infact once Shodeen came down to 290 new apartments (for 490 new apartments) Drew had his made up his mind and was in full support. The residents have met and asked for time to come up with a number they deemed fair. Drew rejected this. 4) Drew did however get the forest preserve to buy the land around his house because of his concern about overgrowth.
Jeff Ward September 14, 2012 at 07:33 PM
Matt, You are exactly the kind of person I was writing about. These kind of silly statements and conspiracies have completely whatever credibility you might've had with the county board. 1. I spoke with drew again and he said nothing of the sort. Do boards members tend to follow the advice of the district rep? Sure! But I've attended enough county board meetings to know it's nowhere near a sure thing. 2. This one absolutely floors me. Those were public meetings that Shodeen Management participated in out the goodness of their heart. There was no obligation to host them, nor was there any obligation on the part of any county board members to attend them. But they do attend county board meetings. Can you say, "entitlement mentality." 3. When there was no immediate Mill Creek outcry, yes, Drew voted for the apartments. But when the Chronicle got wind of it, it was Drew that encouraged Shodeen to hold the public forums. Had their been a reasonable argument against them - as I've repeatedly suggested - he would've listened to it. 4. Those Forest Preserve acquisitions had been in the works for 20 fricken' years! That's 16 years before Drew Frasz was a board member! And people accuse me of not doing my homework! Jeff
Matt September 14, 2012 at 09:10 PM
Jeff 1) Again if you were at the meeting Drew clearly said the board will follow his lead. Ask anyone who was at the meeting 2) Shodeen misrepresented their intent on the land. Their sales staff never mentioned the change to any prespective buyer. When residents found out they objected. Shodeen represented that the land would be townhomes and commercial space even after they submitted the proposed change. 3) There was no outcry because Shodeen was misrepresenting the lands use. the residents were well aware of the 200+ apartments already slated not the additional 390. 4) If those had been in the works for 20 years as you state how were they slated to be a development Grand Praire/The settlements of LaFox up until the mid 2000's? No conspiracy here anyone who has been in these parts knows that when Drew ran for election he went after Jan Carlson for not helping residents fight the Gran Prarie plan. I hope you know that 2008 wasnt 20 years ago.
Matt September 14, 2012 at 09:14 PM
Jeff take a drive in Tanna Farms It is rather interesting that Shodeen has started several spec homes. Do you think he is telling those buyers about the change in plans? He certainly wasnt earlier this year.

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