Joliet City Council votes on $77 million housing project

Redevelopment plan once estimated at $35 million

The Joliet City Council will decide Tuesday whether to move ahead with a $77 million plan to redevelop Riverwalk Homes, the low-income housing project acquired by the city after a lengthy condemnation case.

The project at one time was estimated to cost $35 million.

Reconstruction, which at one time was to start in 2021, now is expected to begin in 2024 and take about 18 months to complete.

The plan is to demolish nearly hall of the 356 apartments at what was known as Evergreen Terrace before the city took it over in 2017 and renamed it Riverwalk Homes.

The remaining 177 apartments will be refurbished to create what is designed to be a less crowded and improved environment for the residents who remain. The project includes finding new homes for those who leave.

The housing complex lies on the west bank of the Des Plaines River and across from downtown in an area that city officials at times have said could be used for riverfront development.

Mayor Terry D’Arcy, who took office in May and questioned whether the city should move ahead with the project, said Monday that the city is compelled to follow the plan that has been in the works for years.

“Nothing we said or did could change the 2017 court order,” D’Arcy said at a council workshop meeting. “We just have to make the best of the opportunity.”

Joliet Mayor Terry D’Arcy attends a luncheon to celebrate the 110th anniversary of the Rotary Club at Jacob Henry Mansion on Tuesday, Aug. 1 in Joliet.

The court order was the result of a settlement Joliet reached with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, one of the city’s foes in the legal battle to wrest control of the housing complex away from the private group that previously ran it.

The settlement called for a redevelopment plan, which the city created in 2018 when it chose the 177-apartment design that was estimated then to cost $35 million.

Peter Holsten, chief executive for Holsten Development, a city partner rhat manages Riverwalk Homes and will oversee the redevelopment, pointed to inflation as the project costs have more than doubled in five years.

“There’s been a massive inflation since COVID, especially in construction,” Holsten said.

Aolsten is the city’s partner in ownership and management of Riverwalk Homes.

D’Arcy said the city should become more involved with Riverwalk Homes.

“I don’t know that over the last several yars of this project anyone has taken ownership from the city,” he said..