A private collection firm that buys tax debt from the Cuyahoga County treasurer's office has filed a foreclosure against the historic landmark's absentee owner, Michelle Heimburger of Toronto. She owes nearly $14,000 in taxes going back to July 2004.
The Franklin Boulevard property is also strapped with more than $13,000 in liens filed by construction and lumber companies for unpaid bills.
Meanwhile, the building's caretaker, Charles Milsaps, continues to market the neglected Victorian mansion as a fancy, members-only club, but the club doesn't exist.
The dilapidated place does not even have running water.
The castle's Web site describes the Ohio City landmark as "a private city club serving lunch and dinner to its members, as well as providing private banquet and meeting facilities all in the beautifully restored 19th-century Victorian mansion."
Neither Milsaps nor Heimburger returned messages left on their phones Tuesday.
Milsaps, who lives in the carriage house behind the castle, has been telling people for three years he was in the process of buying the property from Heimburger for $650,000, about $300,000 more than what she paid for it in 1999.
Three years ago, he told The Plain Dealer and Crain's Cleveland Business that he had sold 50 memberships to his imagined club. In June, he told The Plain Dealer, "Maybe I shouldn't use the word selling.' We're reserving memberships."
For decades, the castle, with its ominous stone walls and surrounding iron fence, has been the subject of ghostly rumors -- poltergeists inhabiting upper floors; human bones found in hidden passages.
In recent years, it has been a stop on Halloween haunted house tours.
Milsaps said in June he expected to begin renovating the castle "within a few months" and have his club -- complete with a gourmet restaurant and an 8,000-bottle wine cellar -- operating by next year. Today, there are no signs of construction.
Construction contractor Chris Demkow, who did some work at the castle last year, but didn't get paid, won an $11,500 judgment against Milsaps and has a lien on the property.
The Cleveland Lumber Co. also has a lien on the property, claiming it's owed $1,650.
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