Developer’s dream deferred as Markham properties remain in legal limbo

WGN Investigates

MARKHAM, Ill. — A developer had a plan to help eradicate blight in south suburban Markham.

Pink Dorsey would convert abandoned homes into affordable housing for families, revitalizing neighborhoods and bringing more tax revenue to town. But his dream has now turned into a nightmare.

Years later, the properties are empty and his cash is gone.

“I had big dreams,” Dorsey said. “I actually quit my job to do this project.”

Dorsey bought the “right to renovate” a dozen distressed properties in Markham for a total of $80,000 in late 2016. The seller was BP Capital Inc., a Chicago-based real estate firm that owned the rights. Under the deal, Dorsey would “obtain title” to the homes only after he completed the rehab.

It was all part of a now-defunct plan by the City of Markham to encourage outside investment.

Dorsey fixed up two of the homes, but he has never received any deeds. The homes are now sitting empty, in various states of disrepair. Dorsey is now suing BP Capital for “fraud” and “breach of “contract” in Cook County.

The company denies any wrongdoing, claiming it’s up to Markham to give Dorsey the deeds.

Under a former mayor, Markham was working with an outside attorney to get abandoned homes back on the tax rolls.

The attorney would go to court and obtain title to the properties, in Markham’s name, through what’s known as a judicial deed.

WGN Investigates found Markham started the judicial deed process on Dorsey’s 12 properties, back in 2015.

But the deeds were never recorded with the county. Because that didn’t happen, Markham can’t transfer them to Dorsey, leaving the properties in legal limbo and without a clear owner.

Why it happened in the first place and who’s to blame remains unclear. Many of the people on Markham’s end have moved on.

The town has a new mayor, and is no longer working with the outside attorney.

“It’s just up to [Markham], if they don’t have the actual judicial deeds, to get a copy from the Circuit Court of Cook County and then record it,” said attorney Aaron Stanton, a partner at Burke, Warren, MacKay & Serritella. He was not involved in the deals but was briefed on Dorsey’s predicament.

It’s a problem that Mayor Roger Agpawa inherited when he took office in fall 2018.

He said he’s aware of Dorsey’s claims and would like to see it resolved. But the lawsuit may complicate matters.

Through its attorney, BP Capital said it “intends to assist Mr. Dorsey in getting resolution of these issues with the Village of Markham.”

How and when that plays out remains to be seen.

“I definitely want to finish what I started,” Dorsey said.

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