JOLIET – The Joliet City Council on Tuesday appeared unwilling to wait until later this month to begin detailed discussions on an Evergreen Terrace decision that could cost the city as much as $70 million.
Council members agreed to try to meet sometime next week with consultant Holsten Real Estate Development & Management Corp. about the potential costs facing the city. The City Council previously had planned to meet with Holsten on July 27.
The city must pay $15 million for Evergreen Terrace by Sept. 1 if it wants to take over the low-income housing complex, which Joliet successfully condemned in federal court after a 10-year legal battle.
“We’re in crunch time now,” Councilman Larry Hug said at the council meeting Tuesday.
Hug raised the issue of Evergreen Terrace, saying he wants council members to say what they’re willing to cut or what taxes they would raise to finance redevelopment of the 156-unit complex.
Other council members said they want to hear first from their consultant regarding the actual costs of redevelopment.
“We have not had the opportunity to sit down and really look at what can be done and has to be done,” Councilwoman Bettye Gavin said. “I’m willing to roll up my sleeves and get to work to see what we need to do to make it happen.”
Mayor Bob O’Dekirk said Holsten so far has offered plans showing redevelopment costing anywhere between $11 million and $70 million. But those figures are based on Joliet eventually getting tax credits. Without tax credits, the project could cost as much as $144 million, he said.
“There’s going to be a price tag, and we’re going to have to come up with a way to pay for it,” O’Dekirk said.
Community involvement in the issue has been heating up, as well. At the council’s Monday workshop meeting, a group from the Unity Community Development Corp. Neighborhood Leadership Council urged the city to move ahead with the purchase.
City Manager Jim Hock said he would talk with Holsten about a possible meeting next week.