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Joliet advances redevelopment plans for Riverwalk Homes

The Joliet City Council took steps at a recent meeting to narrow in on redevelopment plans for Riverwalk Homes.

In accordance with a 2013 settlement agreement, the Department of Housing and Urban Development requires the city to make a decision on the apartment complex, formerly known as Evergreen Terrace.

The city is seeking to retain between 115 and 177 units.

Currently, the complex operates with 356 apartments.

The plans are all but set in stone. Joliet officials want to leave their options open as they look to redevelop the complex.

Representatives for Holsten Development of Chicago have been directed to present the city’s proposal to HUD. HUD wants to ensure that its funds are used for public benefit.

The council came to consensus that the mod-rehab presented by Holsten Development of Chicago and another proposal brought forward by Joliet resident Damon Zdunich make sense for the city. The latter involves operating the units, as is, and using replacement reserve funds to make improvements, as needed.

Councilwoman Jan Quillman asked if reducing the units to 115 and moving the residents to scattered housing in the city is an option.

Andrea Keeney, senior development manager for Holsten Development of Chicago, said it would be costly to acquire land and build new housing.

Officials continue to prioritize recouping the city’s $11.4 million out of $15 million payment to acquire the complex. The scenario comprised of 117 units is anticipated to satisfy this aim by 2024. The other proposal is made up by 115 units and is projected to repay the city by 2032.

Peter Holsten, president, managing broker and director of development for Holsten Development of Chicago, asked that officials keep the residents in mind.

The settlement agreement stipulates that 115 units is the minimum number the city must retain.

“To me, the 177 [units] sounds like we are trying to think about the residents and we’re mod-rehabbing the place,” Councilman Terry Morris said. “I would love to do the 115 units with a mod-rehab, but the numbers, again, is not working.”

Morris added, “I know the scattered site, from dealing with the housing authority, is just not cost-effective.”

Quillman asked if it’s possible if the Housing Authority of Joliet could takeover the project after a certain period of time.

The city found two years ago that HUD would not allow it.

“We don’t know today how HUD feels about the Housing Authority of Joliet,” Holsten said. “We would have to ask them if they would take it over.”

A couple council members during the meeting expressed a desire to retain 177 units.

The Joliet City Council is expected to take a formal vote on redevelopment plans for Riverwalk Homes at its Sept. 4 meeting.

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