Proposed vets’ apartment complex well-received
By Bob Okon firstname.lastname@example.org January 10, 2013 10:28PM
Nancy Hughes, president and CEO of Volunteers of America Illinois, discusses a proposed project to develop Hope Manor Joliet, a veterans housing complex, on part of the former Silver Cross Hospital site in Joliet during a meeting with the city's Land Use Committee Thursday, January 10, 2013. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Jan. 17, 1:30 p.m.: Joliet Zoning Board of Appeals reviews zoning to determine if veterans apartment complex is suitable for the site.
Jan. 17, 4 p.m.: Joliet Plan Commission reviews subdivision plan.
Feb. 4, 3:30 p.m.: Joliet City Council reviews project.
Feb. 5, 6:30 p.m.: Joliet City Council votes on project.
Updated: February 12, 2013 2:13PM
JOLIET — A proposed apartment complex for veterans facing homelessness received a warm reception Thursday.
Both potential neighbors and city officials gave the proposal generally good reviews at meetings with Volunteers of America, which would build and run the 72-unit development at Silver Cross Hospital’s vacated Joliet campus.
“I live right down the street from you. I want to welcome you to the neighborhood,” Judy Studer told VOA representatives. “I think you will like our neighborhood. It’s a child-friendly area.”
Family friendly will be important because the organization expects many of the residents of the Hope Manor Apartments Joliet to be veterans with children, according to Nancy Hughes, chief executive of VOA Illinois.
Hughes said the Joliet project and another under way in Chicago were planned because Volunteers of America has found a growing need for housing among low-income veterans with children.
Hope Manor Apartments Joliet still needs approval from the city, but it got off to a good start Thursday when the city council’s land use committee voted 3-0 to recommend approval to the full council.
“You have a very highly thought of organization, and I’m happy that you’re coming to Joliet,” Councilman Don Fisher, head of the committee, told Hughes.
The plan could get full city approval in the next few weeks. The zoning board of appeals and plan commission will review the plans next week. The city council is expected to discuss the matter at its Feb. 4 meeting and vote the next day.
Hope Manor Apartments Joliet would cost about $13.5 million to build and would be on a 3.2-acre site at Copperfield Avenue and North Hebbard Street. It would consist of three buildings with 30 one-bedroom units, 18 two-bedroom apartments and 24 three-bedroom units. Each building would be three stories.
VOA would staff the operation with seven to 10 employees, Hughes said, adding that hiring local subcontractors for construction will be a priority.
Hughes said she expected most of the low-income residents to be from the Will County area. While Volunteers of America cannot by law restrict residency to veterans only, similar projects have been occupied primarily by veterans, she said.
VOA has been in existence since 1896. Hughes said the organization is the largest nonprofit provider of affordable housing in the United States, with about 20,000 units nationwide. It has two residential complexes for veterans in Chicago and is building a third. VOA also owns Marycrest Village Apartments for senior citizens in Joliet.
Hughes said after two meetings with city officials and potential neighbors of the project, she’s impressed with how receptive people have been to the development.
“We’re so appreciative of how welcoming the community is,” she said. “It hasn’t always been the case in every community we’ve been in.”