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Joliet acquisition of Evergreen Terrace proceeds – slowly

JOLIET – The Joliet City Council last week approved a transfer of title at Evergreen Terrace and took other actions aimed at taking ownership of the housing complex in the coming months.

The current target date is October, said Mayor Bob O’Dekirk, who remains concerned about city ownership of the low-income housing complex.

“I think everyone would admit that with Evergreen Terrace we’re in uncharted waters,” said O’Dekirk, who has raised questions about the city takeover since he was a city councilman.

The title of Evergreen Terrace will not go to the city.

It will go to Riverwalk Homes, the public-private partnership created with an agreement approved by the council in May.

The partnership was created with Holsten, a Chicago-based real estate development and management company that will manage Evergreen Terrace.

City Manager Jim Hock told the council last week that while the partnership between Joliet and Holsten is 50-50, the city has a controlling interest.

“The document spells out that the city is the controller of all decision-making,” Hock said.

Having Holsten as a partner also was essential in getting the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to eventually approve the city takeover, he said.

“HUD wanted to see an experienced development company that they had worked with previously,” Hock said.

Holsten oversaw the redevelopment of the Cabrini-Green housing complex in Chicago.

Evergreen Terrace has been privately owned, but rents are subsidized by HUD, which gives the federal agency oversight of the housing complex.

The city paid $15 million a year ago for Evergreen Terrace after winning a federal condemnation case. But the change in ownership has been held up by HUD, which first wanted to see an appeal of the condemnation case decided. The city is now completing a HUD checklist of requirements to finalize the transfer.

The council last week also adopted resolutions providing for the future collection of rent through Riverwalk Homes and use of the income to pay off $11.4 million of the money Joliet has paid for Evergreen Terrace. The city will use $3.6 million in federal housing funds to cover the remainder of the $15 million.

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