URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — The private owner of the former Champaign County Nursing Home hasn’t paid a cent toward property tax bills on the facility this year.
The second installment of 2021 tax payments was due Sept. 1 in Champaign County. A month-and-a-half later, Evanston-based University Rehab Real Estate LLC has withheld $284,428.02, including more than $14,000 in penalties.
The bills remain unpaid as the future of the facility — now called University Rehabilitation Center — remains unclear.
The Champaign County Board of Review lowered the original 2021 assessed value of the nursing home property following an appeal, according to Supervisor of Assessments Paula Bates, which resulted in a decrease of more than $71,420 to the overdue property tax bill.
An appeal was also filed on the 2022 tax year assessment ahead of the 2023 property tax payment due dates, Bates said. The Board of Review’s decision is expected in January.
William “Avi” Rothner and his father, Eric Rothner, control University Rehab Real Estate LLC. He also founded Altitude Health Services, Inc., listed at the same Main St. address in Evanston which is linked to more than a dozen nursing homes in Illinois. Each is owned or at least partially owned by Rothner, his father, Eric, or another member of the Rothner family.
Champaign County Board members unanimously denied the company’s request last Wednesday to amend the agreement that the private owners signed when the Board sold them the facility in 2019, in order to sell the facility to be converted into a substance abuse treatment facility. Under the ‘Restrictions and Covenants,’ University Rehab Real Estate LLC must keep the facility a nursing home until 2028.
“I’m just extremely disappointed that this situation is what it is. This facility is an important asset to our community,” Board member Steve Summers, D, said.
Summers opposed the 2019 sale of the nursing home to the Rothners.
“But the decision of the Board at that time was to sell and that’s the outcome,” he said.
“And as owners of the building, they’re going to need to continue to pay property taxes. Although, apparently they’re not following through with their agreement on that either.”
Fellow member Jim Goss, R, was a proponent of the sale during the heated debate that ensued in 2017. The county ultimately handed over the keys for $11 million, which was well below the asking price, Goss said.
“Owning a nursing home is a hard business, and those who do own it, I mean, I sympathize with them. We certainly weren’t able to do it as a government entity,” Goss said.
Unlike the county, the Rothners had a history of managing long-term care facilities when they applied to buy the building and signed the agreement with the Board.
Avi Rothner has not returned multiple calls and emails requesting comment in the last week.