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Local News

Evergreen Terrace questions rise up again

JOLIET – Some Evergreen Terrace residents and at least one Joliet City Council member appear to be getting restless for more information about the future of the housing complex.

The City Council is six weeks away from a court-imposed deadline on a decision to buy or not to buy the 356-apartment, low-income housing complex.

The topic could be up for review at the Tuesday council meeting, and was up for discussion at the Monday workshop session.

A group of Evergreen Terrace residents showed up to talk about the matter on Monday.

Resident Elvis Foster said people who live in Evergreen Terrace want to know if they will have another place to live in Joliet if they are displaced by city redevelopment of the project.

“As far as relocating tenants, we’d like to know if there’s enough capacity of apartments to house all the people as opposed to shipping them out of state,” Foster said to the council.

Council members did not produce answers, although they might on July 27 when a consultant is scheduled to report on the city’s options for potential redevelopment of Evergreen Terrace. The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. at City Hall.

Councilwoman Jan Quillman said the council has waited too long to hear from consultant Holsten Real Estate and Management Corp.

“What’s he waiting for? He’s had plenty of time,” Quillman said, noting the City Council wanted to hear a presentation from Holsten earlier.

“We’re going to be down to the wire,” Quillman said. “I’ve been pushing to see these proposals. So far we have nothing.”

City Manager Jim Hock said he could email the council members a 200-page report from Holsten that outlined two possible redevelopment plans. Holsten is working on two other options after Mayor Bob O’Dekirk asked the company to go back to the drawing board because the first two plans would have cost the city between $11 million and $70 million.

Quillman wants the council to discuss Evergreen Terrace options on Tuesday.

Resident Deborah Parks said she would like the city to leave Evergreen Terrace in the hands of the current ownership.

“I have no problem with Evergreen,” said Parks, who said she has lived there 12 years. “We’re just poor people, and we’re just trying to make it the best way we can.”

Evergreen Terrace is privately owned by the family of Ronald Gidwitz, a prominent Illinois Republican who was a onetime candidate for governor and co-chaired Gov. Bruce Rauner’s election campaign. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development subsidizes rents at the housing complex.

The city won a 10-year legal battle to get eminent domain over Evergreen Terrace last year. A federal jury in March set the price the city must pay for the property at $15 million. The city has until Sept. 1 to buy the housing complex.

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