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Local News

Housing Authority of Joliet presents Evergreen Terrace options

JOLIET – The Housing Authority of Joliet on Tuesday presented the City Council with a less expensive redevelopment proposal for Evergreen Terrace.

HAJ officials said they did not believe Joliet should have to dip into the city budget after spending the $15 million purchase price for Evergreen Terrace.

Other money for redevelopment of the housing project should be available from housing funds Joliet normally receives from the federal government, they said.

The city has won the right to take over Evergreen Terrace, a 356-apartment, low-income housing project, from its private owners after a 10-year legal battle. But Joliet must pay the $15 million acquisition price determined in federal court by Sept. 1 to get the property.

The HAJ proposal presented Tuesday was the first alternative to redevelopment plans presented by Holsten Real Estate Development and Management Corp., a private consultant that has proposed the city spend anywhere from $11 million to $70 million out of its regular revenues to redevelop Evergreen Terrace.

HAJ attorney Eric Hanson at times was critical of the Holsten proposals without mentioning the company’s name.

Hanson said he was “stunned, absolutely stunned” when he heard Holsten last week estimate that a community center mandated by a federal consent decree on the Evergreen Terrace property could cost $2.5 million to build and another $300,000 a year to operate.

He also said he was “surprised” that Holsten has not told the city that mandated replacement housing for Evergreen Terrace did not have to be on the Broadway Street site where the apartments are located now.

HAJ officials said the city had options on how to replace about 115 residential units mandated in the consent decree, including building residences on lots owned by the city and placing Evergreen Terrace residents in privately owned apartment buildings elsewhere in Joliet.

Jim Roberts, a financial consultant to HAJ, said the total costs to the city for redevelopment of Evergreen Terrace should be no more than $56 million, including the $15 million acquisition price. The city should be able to pay off the costs beyond acquisition through federal housing money, he said.

HAJ representatives also said Joliet should be able to recoup at least some of the $15 million acquisition price through rents at Evergreen Terrace.

HAJ representatives said they could take on management of Evergreen Terrace for the city and noted that they have previous experience in redevelopment in housing projects. HAJ demolished its Poole Gardens apartment complex and replaced it with the Liberty Meadow Estates mixed-income subdivision. HAJ recently received federal approval to redevelop the Des Plaines Gardens housing complex.

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