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Local News

Evergreen Terrace proposal could cost Joliet $70 million

Evergreen Terrace housing complex in the 300 block of North Broadway St. in Joliet.
Evergreen Terrace housing complex in the 300 block of North Broadway St. in Joliet.

JOLIET – Plans for the redevelopment of Evergreen Terrace include adding four stories to existing buildings and spending $70 million in city money on redevelopment.

Mayor Bob O’Dekirk said he has instructed consultants and staff to come up with more alternatives before the City Council meets in a special session to review plans for redevelopment of the low-income housing complex.

The City Council is expected to decide sometime this summer whether it wants to buy Evergreen Terrace after winning a 10-year condemnation case in federal court. A federal jury set the price at $15 million.

O’Dekirk, since becoming mayor in May, called for a detailed plan on what city ownership and redevelopment of Evergreen Terrace would cost before Joliet decides whether to buy it.

The mayor said he has seen two redevelopment plans drawn up Holsten Real Estate Development, the city’s consultant on the project.

“I’ll be frank. I don’t think any of them was a good plan,” O’Dekirk told the Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce during a luncheon speech last week.

Later, the mayor said those plans include adding four floors to three of the Evergreen Terrace apartment buildings.

The city, he said, would have to come up with $70 million to fund redevelopment of the property.

“It doesn’t look good,” O’Dekirk said.

City Manager Jim Hock said the financial problem faced by the city is how to reduce the density of the 356-unit apartment complex without losing income from the property.

“The highest income you could get from the property is if everyone in there is on Section 8 vouchers,” Hock said. “But that’s the same as you have today.”

The city argued in federal court that Evergreen Terrace is an obsolete housing complex with too many apartments in too small a space.

But reducing the density means fewer apartments and less income, Hock said. That could lead to Joliet putting city funds into the project.

The main reason behind the idea for adding four stories to buildings on the site now is to create more space and reduce the housing density. But expanding the buildings likely is to create questions, since the city for years has said buildings would either be demolished or replaced with better housing.

City officials in the past also have contended that Evergreen Terrace could be redeveloped with income from the property and without the use of money from the city budget.

Hock said the special City Council meeting on Evergreen Terrace is tentatively scheduled for July 27.

When the city launched the condemnation lawsuit in 2005, there was unanimous support for condemning Evergreen Terrace on the City Council. But more recently council members have questioned the cost of the project.

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