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Local News

Joliet tries to sort out Riverwalk Homes deadline

City meets with lawyers over future of Riverwalk Homes

Joliet officials will huddle with attorneys next week to determine what deadline the city faces for a redevelopment plan for Riverwalk Homes.

Confusion over the deadline – once believed to be Sept. 30 but now said to be a year later – is one more baffling development in the city’s takeover of the subsidized apartments formerly known as Evergreen Terrace.

Joliet acquired the 356-unit housing complex in September after a legal battle that started in 2005 with a condemnation lawsuit against the former private owners of the apartments.

The city, through its management partner, Holsten Companies, has been operating Riverwalk Homes for about 11 months.

Yet, Joliet still is trying to nail down when it must decide whether to redevelop the complex and reduce the number of apartments or basically run it as is.

“We are meeting next week to discuss that,” city attorney Marty Shanahan said Friday. “We are going to have a discussion with the stakeholders.”

The stakeholders, he said, include outside attorneys and representatives from Holsten.

Shanahan would not say whether the outside attorneys include the same lawyer who in late July advised city officials that they must decide by Sept. 30 if they want to reduce units at Riverwalk Homes without facing the prospect of negotiating a new agreement with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which subsidizes the rents.

Holsten for several weeks has gone to community meetings to present redevelopment options for Riverwalk Homes with the idea that a decision must be made by Sept. 30 to satisfy a HUD deadline.

But Andrea Keeney, senior development director for Holsten, told the City Council last week that she now believes the HUD deadline is September 2019.

Meanwhile, Keeney also said she has to get paperwork to HUD by Aug. 20 to get a one-year extension of the contract that keeps subsidies flowing into Riverwalk Homes.

Alarm bells went off for some residents, who suggest the changing array of deadlines could lead the city into blundering its way into a long-term commitment to keep Evergreen Terrace as is without knowing just what HUD wants.

“I would just hope that the council gets clarity on that to make sure that we don’t get locked in mistakenly,” Kathy Cawley told the City Council.

Meanwhile, none of the redevelopment options presented by Holsten have proved popular, and there has been some criticism that the plans never were changed after comments made at the community meetings.

“The plans presented in June were the same plans presented in August,” Quinn Adamowski of the Cathedral Area Preservation Association said.

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