October 6, 2008

Foreclosure Not Tied to Ensenberger Legal Dispute

By M.K. Guetersloh

BLOOMINGTON - A McLean County judge has refused efforts to tie the foreclosure on the Ensenberger building to the civil lawsuit between the building owner and the condominium developer.

CEFCU, the Peoria-based credit union, is foreclosing on the nearly $5.8 million loan it issued to developer Ward Waller and co- signed by owner Merle Huff.

Waller, of Bloomington, and Huff, of Peoria, are in a separate legal fight over who has rights to the building, 212 N. Center St.

This week, Circuit Judge Scott Drazewski denied a motion filed by Waller to consolidate the two cases and also dismissed the cross claims between Huff and Waller in the foreclosure case. In his order, Drazewski said Huff and Waller are addressing those matters in their separate lawsuit.

The dispute has left the $9 million condominium project in limbo.

Huff purchased the building in 1999 at a court-ordered auction. The former furniture store closed in 1996 and sat empty for several years.

Waller proposed turning the building into 28 condominiums. The project moved forward in 2005 after the Bloomington City Council agreed to provide $2.2 million in redevelopment money.

Three condos have been sold and residents began occupying the building in 2007. No sales are being made at the building while the lawsuit is pending.

The lawsuit between Huff and Waller is scheduled to go to trial in February.

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