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Joliet wins appeal in Evergreen Terrace lawsuit

A view of the Evergreen Terrace housing complex Sept. 30, 2011, in the 300 block of North Broadway St. in Joliet. Mayor Bob O'Dekirk announced Monday that the city of Joliet has won the appeal in the Evergreen Terrace case.
A view of the Evergreen Terrace housing complex Sept. 30, 2011, in the 300 block of North Broadway St. in Joliet. Mayor Bob O'Dekirk announced Monday that the city of Joliet has won the appeal in the Evergreen Terrace case.

JOLIET – Mayor Bob O’Dekirk announced Monday that the city of Joliet has won the appeal in the Evergreen Terrace case.

The city will try to take control of the 156-apartment, low-income housing in August.

O’Dekirk said the decision by a federal appeals court was handed down Friday and likely means the end of the Evergreen Terrace legal battle, which has been going on since 2005.

“We do believe at this point that this will be the end of litigation,” O’Dekirk said at a City Council workshop session while announcing the decision. “The legal counsel as well as HUD [U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development] have indicated to us that this is not a case the U.S. Supreme Court will likely hear.”

Evergreen Terrace management, however, issued a statement Monday night indicating that it held out hope while another lawsuit over the matter remains unsettled.

“We are currently reviewing our options, particularly in light of the fact that the separate case alleging the city’s violation of the Fair Housing Act remains pending,” the statement said.

City officials in past months had said they expected Evergreen Terrace ownership to appeal to the Supreme Court.

But City Manager Jim Hock also said Monday that he believes the case is over based on comments from HUD officials that the Supreme Court recently ruled in a similar case.

Hock said Joliet will ask a federal judge to give the city ownership of Evergreen Terrace on Aug. 1. If that happens, he said, the city will immediately turn Evergreen Terrace over to a public-private corporation created with Holsten, a real estate company that is partnering with Joliet to manage and redevelop the property.

Joliet in late August 2015 paid $15 million – a price set by a federal grand jury – for Evergreen Terrace after winning the 10-year condemnation case to take control of the low-income housing project from its private owners.

The owners appealed the case, and HUD, which subsidizes rents at the complex, would not consent to city ownership until the appeal was decided. HUD issues Section 8 vouchers that pay the rent on the property, so the agency exerts strong control over Evergreen Terrace.

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