Rend Lake Resort sits vacant, IDNR receives zero bids to operate - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Rend Lake Resort sits vacant, IDNR receives zero bids to operate

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WSIL -- A first attempt to seek bids for a new concessionaire to operate the Rend Lake Resort and Conference Center turned up zero bids.

The resort has sat vacant since mid-December when the Illinois Department of Natural Resources terminated its contract with operator John Reilly. The termination was a result of delinquent rent payments of $205,000 and $14,000 owed in real estate taxes. The resort also owed back payments for utilities and hotel operator's taxes. In addition to behind payments, mold and peeling paint posed a health hazard.

Summer is the busiest time on the lake, but at the resort, barricades sit in front of the entrances and rooms and boat docks sit empty.

Optimistic about the prospect of reopening, IDNR held a press conference in late June announcing it was starting the process of accepting bids from vendors interested in taking over and reopening the facility.

"We would anticipate that there are probably a lot of businesses and individuals that might be interested in becoming the new concessionaire at the resort and hope they'll be at the meeting on Wednesday to learn more about what it will take," said Tim Schweizer back in June.

That optimism quickly waned. Not a single bid came in by the August 2nd deadline.

We reached out to IDNR for comment Thursday, but they would only confirm no bids were received and that they would open it back up for bids in the future.

The resort sits on land owned by the Army Corp of Engineers and leased to IDNR who then leases it out to a concessionaire.

According to the Army Corp of Engineers, Rend Lake set a new record attendance this summer, with many taking advantage of campsites. The Corp of Engineers hopes the resort remains a staple to drawing people to the area in the future.

"The resort has been a part of the recreation program at Rend Lake for many years," explained Mark Roderick, assistant operations manager at Rend Lake. "It's a unique opportunity because it's the only facility that has actual lodging on the water."

As to a timetable for when the resort reopens? It must start with finding a willing concessionaire first. One that will take on the task of cleaning up the property so that it is safe for guests, along with tackling the financial obligations left behind.

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