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Water’s Edge opens new housing in Joliet

The City of Joliet has some new lease-to-own housing options available on its east side.

Civic leaders, residents and other community members joined the Housing of Authority of Joliet to celebrate the new Water’s Edge development with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The $21 million housing community features 68 single-family and townhouse-style homes, extending from Wallace and DesPlaines streets to McDonough and Water streets to Water and Wallace streets. It serves as the Housing Authority of Joliet’s third affordable housing redevelopment project in the City of Joliet.

“This was something that was labor intense—a lot of meetings, politics got involved—but being resolved and getting it done, that’s what brought us to this point,” said Michael Simelton, chief executive officer for Housing Authority of Joliet.

The Housing Authority of Joliet wanted to provide a space in the community for a mixed-income development to extend a lease-to-own housing option. It is meant to draw in potential renters within the 30- to 60-percent median income levels. All homes are issued a project-based voucher to ensure affordability.

Water’s Edge is replacing the former Des Plaines Gardens public housing development, originally built in 1956 and demolished last year. Anyone who previously lived there received a housing voucher and first preference to move into Water’s Edge, if they elected to exercise that right.

The development saw 16 of the 122 families from Des Plaines Garden return to the new site.

Water’s Edge currently has a full waiting list and is closed to new applicants, according to the Housing Authority of Joliet’s website.

“I honestly believe that in any community that would welcome us, we’d be more than happy to come in and try to develop something very similar to this,” Simelton said.

On average, the unit sizes are 1,100 square feet, excluding the garage.

Mayor Bob O’Dekirk said the new community the city has is “impressive.”

“From the city’s standpoint, we were thrilled and are thrilled a $21 million development [is] going in an older neighborhood,” he said. “This was blight. … This is cleared out, and new housing has come in. It’s great for the neighborhood, and it’s great for the city, so we’re very excited.”

Simelton said the City of Joliet has been a good working partner throughout the process of getting the development to come on line.

“There was some involvement with the city absolutely,” Simelton said. “They’re part of our partnership. They helped us with waiving fees obviously, but they had their hands in the anti-monotony of the community. … There’s five or six different designs, and there’s different colors, and [there’s] patterns, and all of that, and I think that negotiating back and forth, we got a good product.”