JOLIET – The solution for stemming crime at Fairview Homes may be to tear it down.
Michael Simelton, chief executive officer for the Housing Authority of Joliet, told neighbors of the public housing complex that the authority will begin focusing its attention on taking the steps needed to demolish it.
His comments were met with some quiet applause Monday night at a community meeting in Forest Park, the neighborhood where Fairview is located. The Forest Park Neighborhood Council was meeting with police to discuss an outbreak of violence at Fairview in recent weeks. A few hours after the meeting, three people were shot at Fairview.
Simelton said the Housing Authority has support from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to tear down Fairview and build elsewhere.
“The people who fund the Housing Authority, they’re all for taking that building down,” he said. “It’s not a desirable site that is conducive to family living. We need to take it down and redevelop another site – maybe even outside Joliet.”
Simelton said the Fairview site lacks certain amenities, with public transportation being a major one, and getting funding to redevelop at that location would be difficult.
The process to get demolition approval could take two years, Simelton said.
Fairview would be the last of three public housing apartment complexes to be torn down by the Housing Authority.
Poole Gardens was demolished in 2007 and replaced with Liberty Meadow Estates, a subsidized mixed-income subdivision. The Housing Authority recently received approval to demolish Des Plaines Gardens, which will happen by March, and redevelop with Water’s Edge, also a subsidized mixed-income subdivision with townhomes and single-family houses.
With the Des Plaines Gardens project underway, the demolition of Fairview “becomes our priority,” Simelton said.
In the meantime, some Forest Park and Fairview residents are looking to build bridges between the two communities to deal with the crime problem.
Joliet Councilwoman Bettye Gavin said she tried to encourage Fairview residents to come to the meeting Monday, but only a few did.
One of those who did asked that the Neighborhood Council have a meeting at Fairview. Garland Mays, president of the council, said he would look into having a future meeting at the housing complex.
HOUSING AUTHORITY OF JOLIET REDEVELOPMENT PROJECTS
• Poole Gardens: Demolition began in October 2007. New mixed-income subdivision Liberty Meadow Estates opened to first residents in December 2008.
• Des Plaines Gardens: Demolition of 122 of 142 units scheduled for March 2016. First homes scheduled to be occupied in new Water’s Edge development in March 2017.
• Fairview Homes: Housing officials say they will begin process of seeking approval for demolition and redevelopment at another site from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.