Housing plan on old Joliet Country Club gets another boost

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joliet — A future affordable housing community at the closed Joliet Country Club may be getting closer, but it’s hard to tell how close until the Housing Authority of Joliet acquires the land.

U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville, joined the HAJ in a check presentation ceremony for a $3 million federal grant to be used to acquire land.

Housing Authority of Joliet board Chairwoman Glenda McCullum (left), U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville, (center) and HAJ Executive Director Michael Simelton pose for a photo during a check presentation ceremony Monday for the project called The Mews. (Bob Okon)

The housing authority wants to use the money to buy the old Joliet Country Club, which has been closed since 2019.

“This is a development that takes a wonderful, beautiful, green setting and turns it into a community over time,” Robert Natke, a partner with UrbanWorks, said as he described the plan at the Monday event.

UrbanWorks is the architect hired to design the project, which is planned for at least 236 homes and retail development while maintaining trees, a creek and other natural features of the golf course landscape.

Robert Natke, a partner with the Chicago architectural firm UrbanWorks, stands by a map showing a proposed layout for The Mews. (Bob Okon)

“The goal is to create a connected community so that each block has its own gathering point,” Natke said. “People can walk these paths and never have to use their cars. The whole idea is to create a walkable community.”

The community even has a name now: The Mews.

What it doesn’t have is a development schedule until housing authority gets the land.

“We don’t have a timeline,” HAJ board President Glenda McCullum said. “We just continue on a path to try to get it done and keep moving forward.”

Housing Authority of Joliet board Chairwoman Glenda McCullum presents a plaque to U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville, describing him as a "champion of affordable housing" during a check presentation ceremony for a project called The Mews. (Bob Okon)

Housing authorty Executive Director Michael Simelton said negotiations had begun with JRM Investments of Wheaton.

“We’ve had some conversations initially,” Simelton said. “We still have to get to an agreed price.”

The landowner at one time was interested in selling the land for warehouse development. But the plan faced opposition from residents and city officials, who would not consider rezoning needed for warehouses.

Since then, the authority developed the plan to convert the Joliet Country Club into a housing development similar to Water’s Edge and Liberty Landing where subdivisions of single-family homes and town homes were built to replace former public housing projects and provide low-income residents opportunities for home ownership.

Display at a check presentation ceremony on Monday for the Housing Authority of Joliet project called The Mews shows what paths on the former Joliet Country Club setting could look like. (Bob Okon)

The plan for The Mews takes the authority’s program a step further, creating affordable housing in a country club setting with plans to add retail and business development to the mix.

The check ceremony was held at Liberty Landing, a development that had originally been named Liberty Meadow Estates when it opened in 2008.

“People weren’t sure how it was going to work,” Foster said of Liberty Landing. “But if you drive around, you can see that the rent-to-own model is working.”

Foster expressed confidence that The Mew would be successful, saying authority has become “a model for the entire country, and it’s received national attention for projects like this.”

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via Shaw Local

June 6, 2022 at 06:15PM

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