A $3 million injection of federal money is the money needed to start the project to convert the former Joliet Country Club into a landscaped housing community, the executive director of the Joliet Housing Authority said.
First, HAJ’s development subsidiary, Hope Bound Development Corp., must purchase the land. For that, he needs cash.
“We can finally start negotiating with landowners,” executive director Michael Simelton said Friday.
A spending bill including $3 million for the HAJ project is expected to reach President Joe Biden’s office for approval in the coming days.
Simelton said he’s spoken to the owners of Joliet Country Club, and “they’re excited to start the process.”
HAJ representatives have already spoken with neighbors at Joliet Country Club, and the response has been “overwhelmingly positive,” Simelton said. Another meeting will take place in the coming weeks, he said.
Neighbors were concerned that the current property was planning to convert the country club land into a warehouse. This idea was presented to the municipal authorities, who rejected it.
Housing officials plan to convert the former country club into an affordable housing community that would retain as many trees as possible and retain the contour of the land. The plan also includes adding businesses and other amenities for residents.
“It’s more than housing. It’s a village,” said HAJ board vice-president Angel Contreras. “Our goal when developing the country club area is to help develop everything around it.”
The project could cost between $300 million and $500 million, Simelton said. These costs will be funded through financing mechanisms similar to those used by Hope Bound Development to build the communities of Water’s Edge and Liberty Landing, formerly known as Liberty Meadow Estates.
But these were built on land already owned by the HAJ, which has demolished aging apartment complexes and replaced them with developments of single-family homes and townhouses that residents can rent to buy at rates subsidized.
Land costs complicate financing, Simelton said. Federal funding of $3 million will make this easier.
The plan now calls for developing up to 236 units, although that number could be reduced to preserve the natural features of the country club grounds, Simelton said.
U.S. Representative Bill Foster, D-Naperville, who advocated for the funding, said HAJ has a track record for creating affordable housing communities.
“The Joliet Housing Authority has become well known for developments such as Liberty Meadow Estates, which is now copied across the country,” Foster said.