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Unpaid Property Tax Bills Further Burden Struggling Hotels, Malls

Hilton Chicago at 720 South Michigan Ave.

The collection of 2019 commercial property taxes has lagged due to many landlords struggling to stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic, and several prominent hotels and mall owners are among the worst hit, according to a report in Crain's Chicago Business

The 2019 taxes were due in late August 2020, but nearly $200M remains outstanding, Crain's found, citing data from Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas. That's about 6% of the total owed. In addition, commercial landlords still owe another $1.1B of their 2020 property taxes, roughly one-third of the total, although if they pay up before May 3, 2021, they won't suffer any penalties. 

Downtown hotel owners seem to be in the deepest holes. The largest unpaid 2019 tax bill in Chicago is for the Hilton Chicago Downtown, which still owes $4.7M, Crain's reported. In addition, the W Hotel at 644 North Lake Shore Drive still owes $1.3M, the third-largest remaining bill, and the Drake Hotel at 140 East Walton St. near the Mag Mile also owes about $1.3M.

The owners of the River Oaks Center mall in suburban Calumet City and the shuttered Lincoln Mall in south suburban Matteson also have large outstanding bills, according to Crain's. 

Pappas told Crain's some of the delinquent properties could end up in foreclosure. 

"I spent 52 years working to build this city and watching it go into a downward spiral is sad, to say the least," she said. "I look at it and I say, 'How many more years will it take for this to come back?'"