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Local News

Joliet housing authority gets funding to redevelop Des Plaines Gardens

Demolition could start in late August

The Housing Authority of Joliet expects to get the financing it needs to redevelop the Des Plaines Gardens housing project.
The Housing Authority of Joliet expects to get the financing it needs to redevelop the Des Plaines Gardens housing project.

JOLIET – The Housing Authority of Joliet has announced it will get the financing it needs to redevelop the Des Plaines Gardens housing project.

If all goes smoothly, HAJ plans to begin tearing down the 122 units along Des Plaines Street by early September and begin building again in the spring.

Des Plaines residents would get Section 8 vouchers to live elsewhere until the new housing is available.

HAJ Chief Executive Officer Michael Simelton cautioned that the agency still must get final approval from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“We probably won’t know anything until August,” Simelton said. But, if HUD does sign off on the plan, he said, demolition “could start as early as late August or early September.”

The Illinois Housing Development Authority last week approved a 10-year, annual allocation of $1.2 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credits for the project. HAJ had been turned down for the funding previously.

HAJ also will get a $5 million construction loan and provide some of its own money for the $18.6 million project, Simelton said.

With HUD approval, construction could start in spring 2016 with the first homes becoming available about 18 months after the start of construction, or by late 2017, Simelton said.

Des Plaines Gardens would be replaced by “Water’s Edge,” which will consist of 68 single-family and townhome rental units. Another 54 homes would be built in a second phase of the project at the Liberty Meadow Estates development, an HAJ project located at Briggs and Rosalind streets. Liberty Meadow Estates is a mixed-income subdivision that replaced the Poole Gardens housing project.

The redevelopment “is going to be good for the residents,” said HAJ board Chairwoman Mittchelena Meade. “Most of them are going to have new homes.”

Meade said Des Plaines Gardens residents will get Section 8 housing to live elsewhere during the reconstruction.

They will have first-refusal on the new units if they want to come back, she said.

Des Plaines Gardens was built from 1954 to 1956. The development consists of “functionally obsolete row house buildings,” according to a news release from HAJ.

HAJ officials have discussed redeveloping both the Des Plaines Gardens and Fairview Homes projects at lease since 2007 when construction started on Liberty Meadow Estates.

Joliet City Councilman Terry Morris, chairman of the council’s HAJ liaison committee, said the redevelopment will be an improvement for the neighborhood.

“I’m glad that we got the tax credits to move forward and give residents newer and more modern housing,” Morris said. “This is a big step to enhance the neighborhood and the quality of life for the residents.”

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