City staff, working closely with private developer Brinshore Development, LLC, has submitted to the federal government an application for $39.4 million in Neighborhood Stabilization Program 2 funds. The application, running 43 pages, plus 40 pages of appendices in draft form, will enter a national competition for funds. If the application is accepted, Brinshore, working with the City, will purchase approximately 100 foreclosed units in south Evanston and will construct a mixed-use development near the Green Bay and Emerson intersection in accordance with the West Evanston Master Plan.
The requirements for proposals included a minimum of $5 million and 100 units. Interim Community Development Director Dennis Marino said, “Since this is a competitive program, the staff thought it would be helpful to bring in a private partner.” Brinshore Development, which had approached the City earlier in the year to discuss a development that would implement the West Evanston Plan, has filled this bill, he said.
Constructed or rehabbed housing would be available to home-seekers earning less than 120 percent of area median income, though 25 percent of the units must be reserved for households at or below 50 percent of area median income. Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, speaking at the July 13 City Council meeting, pointed to this standard, more easily met than the standards for other government programs, as a huge benefit.
“This is almost like a dream come true,” said Ald. Rainey. “This proposal looks like hundreds and hundreds of hours of work.” All of the foreclosed properties to be purchased under the plan are located in the Eighth Ward between Howard and Oakton streets and Asbury Avenue and the Purple Line CTA tracks. She referred to the City’s bills list, which again contained multiple expenditures for board-ups and mowing the grass of foreclosed buildings, as evidence of the real need for large-scale action.
Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, praised the City’s foresight in completing the West Evanston Master Plan. The existence of a complete plan is seen as a major boost to hopes for success, according to Mr. Marino and several Council members. Alderman Delores Holmes, whose Fifth Ward contains much of the proposed West Evanston development (the remainder is in the 2nd Ward), said that the application presents “a real opportunity to implement the West Evanston Plan.”
As for timing, Mr. Marino called it “difficult to estimate in this competitive national environment. But Brinshore gets national attention. Could be as late as December, but we should have some indication [as to how we are doing] before then.” If the application is accepted, construction will begin as soon as rehabbed Eighth Ward homes are acquired, and in mid-2010 for the West Evanston development (estimated).
A copy of the proposal has been sent, with a letter from the Mayor and Council, to Representative Schakowsky and Senators Durbin and Burris. As Ald. Rainey noted, “Those of you who pray, start now.”