Thursday, November 29, 2007

Association to Shelbourne: take your Spire and shove it

And that's a pretty big shove. The neighboring HOA has sued Shelbourne Development, who is developing the Chicago Spire, to rescind its easement agreement allowing certain access to the property. The complaint seeks declaratory relief in chancery.

I have not looked at the complaint; I will if someone emails it to me but I have neither the time nor the inclination to go to the Daley Center to grab a copy. Based solely on media reports, here's a quick thought or two.

Tom Corfman's article says the plaintiffs are alleging fraud on the part of the defendant and its attorney in that they waited until the easement was signed before revealing "the full scope of the project." If that is true, I can tell you that fraud is not an easy case to win in Illinois. Corfman also reports that Shelbourne doesn't think the HOA owns the land. (I don't know whether there is alternative utility access; if there is I assume it is expensive or hard to access or both. As a further aside, you can actually buy title insurance over the ability to obtain utilities facilities, by the way. But that is another story for another time.)

Susan Diesenhouse's story says that the HOA "also claims that given the nature of the waterfront land, excavation for the seven-story underground garage cannot be conducted without damage to the neighbors' homes, and therefore is not legal according to Illinois law." As for the settling and foundation damage, well, you have to pay for that of course. There's all kinds of case law there. I assume they are arguing that the damage might be so bad that you'd have to obtain declaratory relief to stop construction. Generally money heals these wounds, so they might be saying that there would be irreparable harm to the association's property.

It'll be REALLY interesting to see how this plays out. As of this morning there's nothing on the docket on this case set, but I have a strong feeling that you might see some attempts by Schiff Hardin, the plaintiff's lawyers, to obtain a TRO and some injunctive relief, as construction at the Spire is ongoing.

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