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Local News

Housing Authority of Joliet gets final approval to demolish Des Plaines Gardens

Michael Simelton, CEO  and John Chow, Chief Development and Operations Officer at the Housing Authority of Joliet speak at the 70th anniversary celebration Thursday night. Officials announced at that meeting that the he Housing Authority of Joliet has received final approval to demolish most of the 1950s-era Des Plaines Gardens housing complex.
Michael Simelton, CEO and John Chow, Chief Development and Operations Officer at the Housing Authority of Joliet speak at the 70th anniversary celebration Thursday night. Officials announced at that meeting that the he Housing Authority of Joliet has received final approval to demolish most of the 1950s-era Des Plaines Gardens housing complex.

JOLIET – The Housing Authority of Joliet has received final approval to demolish most of the 1950s-era Des Plaines Gardens housing complex.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development previously gave preliminary approval, which was announced last week. Final approval means HAJ can begin issuing notices to residents and hold meetings on relocation plans, said HAJ Chief Executive Officer Michael Simelton.

That should begin next week, he said Friday.

"Everything is clear for us now," Simelton said. "We have a series of meetings we have to have with the residents. We definitely have to give the 180-day prior notice."

Simelton said he learned of the final HUD approval late Thursday afternoon.

Des Plaines Gardens residents will be given Section 8 vouchers to move elsewhere as had been done previously when HAJ demolished Poole Gardens and created the Liberty Meadow Estates subdivision.

Des Plaines Gardens will be replaced partially by a project called Water's Edge, which will consist of 68 single-family and town home units in the same area along Des Plaines Street . Another 54 homes would be built at Liberty Meadow Estates, which is at Briggs and Rosalind streets.

Demolition could begin by December but should start no later than spring 2016, Simelton said. HAJ plans to begin construction on Water's Edge by May 2016 with completion expected to take 18 months, he said.

Not all of Des Plaines Gardens will be demolished.

HAJ plans to demolish 122 of the 162 units at the complex.

The 40 units that will be left standing include 28 used for senior housing in an area known as The Quads and 12 adjacent family units that were renovated about 10 years ago, Simelton said.

Simelton said the Des Plaines Gardens project was built in the 1950s. Water's Edge would have fewer units per acre in addition to providing more modern housing. The plan has been well-received by city officials.

"I think it's a positive thing for the neighborhood," said Councilman Terry Morris, whose District Five includes the area.

Morris said he has not heard any complaints from Des Plaines Gardens residents, and people are looking forward to newer homes with bigger rooms.

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