March 24 2010 12:00 AM

Company that owns downtown Lansing office building pays some back taxes



The company that owns a prominent downtown Lansing office building has paid delinquent taxes owed since 2007, averting tax foreclosure, but is still in arrears $439,166.66 in 2008 and 2009 taxes and late fees.

101 S. Washington Sq. Development LLC paid off $184,380.07 in 2007 taxes and $68,569.93 in late fees on Friday for the office building at 101 S. Washington Square, on the southeast corner of Washington and Michigan Avenue, Ingham County Treasurer Eric Schertzing said. The building was the former home of Troppo restaurant.

Schertzing said a receipt for payment was issued to the LLC.

Paul Vlahakis, the LLC’s spokesman and part owner, has said that the taxes were not paid sooner because of negotiations over property taxes with the bank that finances the building. Last year, Irwin Union Bank, the original financier, was taken over by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Some of the bank’s portfolio, including 101 S. Washington, were bought by Hamilton, Ohio-based First Financial Bank. Representatives from First Financial have not returned calls for comment.

If the taxes on 101 S. Washington had not been not paid by March 31, the county could have taken the property by tax foreclosure. The property has a history of late tax payments every year since 2002 except 2004.

Ingham County has seen a rise this year in commercial properties that owed property taxes from 2007. This year, 1,500 properties were headed toward tax foreclosure at the end of 2009 compared to around 800 in 2008. At the end of February, 793 properties had judicial foreclosure judgments entered against them, compared to 450 last year.