JOLIET – The city won’t move up the schedule on an Evergreen Terrace decision after all – at least not yet.
Some City Council members last week said they wanted a meeting with the city’s consultant on the Evergreen Terrace issue ahead of one slated for July 27. They asked for a public meeting as soon as Monday to delve into complex issues they face before a Sept. 1 deadline to buy the housing complex.
But City Manager Jim Hock said the consultant, Holsten Real Estate Development & Management, won’t be able to make it this week. He said the meeting with Holsten will occur July 27 as previously planned.
“I don’t understand why they can’t be there,” Councilwoman Jan Quillman said Friday. “They work for us. That’s unacceptable.”
A representative from Holsten couldn’t immediately be reached late Friday afternoon for comment.
Quillman said she will push for a special city council meeting on Evergreen Terrace before July 27, whether Holsten is there or not.
Mayor Bob O’Dekirk said he wants to have at least one community meeting after July 27 to hear from residents about the project. The city faces a court deadline to decide whether to pay the $15 million price set by a jury for Evergreen Terrace.
The council began discussing at its Tuesday meeting the complexities of the Evergreen Terrace purchase. The discussion was prompted by neighborhood groups who came to the Monday workshop meeting and urged the council to buy the low-income housing complex, which the city has had condemned in federal court.
On Tuesday, Councilman Larry Hug, motivated by statements made the night before, started the Evergreen Terrace discussion by urging council members to say what services they would cut or what taxes they would raise to pay for redevelopment of the housing complex.
Hug said he has seen two redevelopment plans prepared by Holsten, and they would require the city to spend between $11 million and $70 million on redevelopment.
Hug said Friday he plans to vote against the acquisition unless Holsten presents a plan that would require $2 million or less in city funds for redevelopment. Even then, he has concerns, Hug said.
“I really don’t believe the city should be in the business of managing private apartments or houses,” he said. “And the liability is huge.”
Hug also said the least-expensive option for the city is to leave Evergreen Terrace as it is now.
But that raises questions of why the city should even take it over.
City officials have said that they want to redevelop Evergreen Terrace, reduce the number of apartments on the site, and improve living conditions.
The mayor instructed Holsten to create two more redevelopment plans after seeing the first two. O’Dekirk said he did not believe the council was likely to approve the amount of spending required in the first two plans.
Also, one of them involved adding four more stories to three of the Evergreen Terrace buildings to create space for larger apartments.