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  • Megann Horstead

Residents weigh in on Riverwalk Homes at Joliet council meeting

Residents packed the council chambers Monday at city hall to watch on as Joliet officials had to reach a consensus on the future redevelopment plans for Riverwalk Homes.

The city’s partner in this venture, Holsten Development of Chicago, gave a rundown of written feedback they’d received from the public in recent months.

Among comments of note were concerns for property values surrounding Riverwalk Homes, concerns for displacement of students and redevelopment costs.

The city finds that it needs to meet an Aug. 20 deadline, at which point the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is expecting officials to decide how much of Riverwalk Homes is to be demolished or how they wish to proceed with redevelopment.

The possible scenarios range in cost depending on what improvements are desired and how many of the existing 356 units are retained. More expensive options require the city to demolish all the buildings and build 115 new townhome-style units.

Joliet cannot receive public assistance for any buildings they may intend to tear down.

If the city doesn’t agree on a one-year extension, HUD would not be required to divvy up funds for which the public is not benefiting.

Joliet resident Bob Nachtrieb took to the podium, expressing his concern for the redevelopment costs for Riverwalk Homes

“It seems unusual Peter [Holsten] that the units at Evergreen Terrace or Riverwalk Homes pay more than the surrounding homes in the surrounding area,” he said. “It would seem that the surrounding area is probably a lower cost because of Evergreen Terrace.”

Nachtrieb added, “If Evergreen Terrace went away, maybe that area would improve tremendously.”

Joliet resident Robert Hernandez shared a differing view and acknowledged there’s a need for affordable housing in the area.

“I think you should look at the options for keeping this thing going," he said.

Some at the meeting questioned the truth behind the vouchers and the flexibility it gives individuals and families who may look to relocate out of state, if they choose not to stay at Riverwalk Homes.

Jackie Taylor Holsten of Holsten Development Chicago explained that while they are equipped to handle some moving expenses, individuals and families in need of other forms of assistance, like food stamps, may feel discouraged, if another state is not able to provide that support.

When asked to narrow down the list redevelopment options, members of the Joliet council expressed uncertainty.

Mayor Bob O’Dekirk admitted that he does not like any of the scenarios presented.

The council decided that a one-year extension is needed. As such, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will be notified of the city’s desire to keep the existing apartment buildings and the community center. Council action also extends the city’s commitment to a minimum of 20 years.

The city has a couple months heading into one year’s timeframe to submit a plan detailing what course of action officials intend to take to redevelop Riverwalk Homes.


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