JOLIET – The Joliet City Council and the public got a closer look at Evergreen Terrace options Tuesday.
The City Council’s $15 million decision – buy Evergreen Terrace or not – is less than six weeks away, and some of the complexities were on display.
Mayor Bob O’Dekirk shared details from two plans from a city consultant, who is developing redevelopment plans for the low-income housing complex.
Under one plan, the city would pay $60 to $70 million – assuming tax credits and other government development funds come through – to reduce the number of units on the property from 356 to 302, convert some buildings to townhouse or condos, and add a park, community center and underground parking garage.
Under another plan, the city would pay $11 to $24 million to reduce the number of units to 322 and include the same features as the first plan but on a smaller scale.
O’Dekirk said he was “underwhelmed” by both plans and has asked consultant Holsten Real Estate and Management Corp. to come up with two more ideas, which will be presented at a special City Council meeting at 6 p.m. Monday.
Councilman John Gerl suggested the city convert the site along the Des Plaines River into green space, which he noted was the original idea when the city started a lawsuit against Evergreen Terrace’s private owners 10 years ago, and provide alternate housing for residents elsewhere.
“Are we sued? Are we fined? Are we put into contempt of court?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” City Manager Jim Hock answered.
Councilman Larry Hug raised several points against the acquisition and said the only affordable option for the city is to run Evergreen Terrace as it is managed now.
“If we’re going to run it just like the current management, what’s going to change?” he asked.
Hock said the city would not run Evergreen Terrace like current management and noted the property has repeatedly failed inspections by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“We as owners have an obligation to make sure we meet the criteria and pass all the HUD inspections,” he said.
One Evergreen Terrace resident said the place isn’t bad the way it is run now.
“They have done a lot of improvements in there,” Marie Humphery said. “It’s not like it used to be 10 years ago. I don’t think it will be like that 10 years from now.”
But Councilwoman Jan Quillman said she believed Evergreen Terrace has been upgraded because of the city lawsuit.
If the city does not buy the property from its private owners, she said, “it’s going to go back to what it was 10 years ago.”