Council Approves Funding for Tendick Street Housing Development

By Jeremy Coumbes on December 12, 2023 at 1:24pm

A project aimed at bringing a 22-unit housing complex to Jacksonville took a major step forward last night.

Springfield area developer and Jacksonville native Mike Niehaus applied with the City of Jacksonville for funding assistance to build a permanent supportive housing project last month.

The complex is planned for the site of the former Hillcrest mobile home court in the 1100 block of Tendick Street. According to Niehaus, the nearly $7 million project could have 90% of the cost funded by the Illinois Housing Development Authority, but he has to secure funding for a 10% match to apply.

Niehaus, who is a developer with Windsor Homes of Springfield, requested the city chip in $220,000 in either cash or in-kind donations. According to the IHDA guidelines, the project would provide housing for the homeless, low-income persons with disabilities, as well as other special needs populations including people with criminal records and military veterans who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

The council finance committee recommended during the workshop session last night, that the city commit $200,000 toward the project in the form of $150,000 in funding and $50,000 of in-kind donations.

Ward 2 Alderwoman Lori Large-Oldenetel proposed tabling the issue citing calls she had received from constituents asking her to vote against the project. Oldenetel said during both the workshop and regular session, that she was in favor of a project like this but would rather see it in a different location. She also shared that some constituents commented that the location was far away from some of the services the target group would need to have access to.

She also questioned portions of the funding coming from the city’s video gaming tax and requested the council be furnished with line item numbers showing where and how the gaming taxes are being spent.

Ward 3 Alderman Kent Hannant also spoke against the measure, saying he had received several calls from constituents and none of them were in favor of putting the complex at that location. During the regular session, the measure passed by an 8 to 2 vote, with Oldenetel and Hannantt voting against.

Mayor Andy Ezard said following the meeting, he was glad city officials heard from constituents on the issue, but in the end, he feels the majority of the council felt the potential of the project outweighed the concerns.

I think the bottom line is we see the track record of Mike Niehaus and Windsor Development and what he has provided in the community with his projects. And moving forward I think the council felt he has a great track record and also that there is a need for this type of housing.

It’s not necessarily just for the homeless, it’s for folks who are transitioning, or disabled in one way or another and is something that gives them time to be housed and hopefully become productive in society again. To get a job and follow the lead of their caseworker that will be assigned to them through the process.”

Niehaus has previously designed and helped build Prairie Estates, Gilmore Estates, and the Downtown Commons in the Jacksonville area. He has also overseen new housing developments built in Roodhouse and Greenfield within the last 5 years, as well as a project similar to this one that opened in Springfield earlier this year.

Ezard says he thinks when it is all said and done it will all work out, and that the city is sympathetic to those who have expressed concerns over the project. “We’re very cognizant of the concerns. There’s always concerns and I have many of the same concerns, but sometimes you just have to put those aside and kind of look at the big picture. That we know [housing] is an issue and we feel it’s going to remain an issue if not more of an issue and we’re trying to tackle that when they come like this.”

Niehaus says he is also seeking funding from both Morgan County and possibly Blue Cross Blue Shield to help qualify for the project. He says time is of the essence however because the application is due by January 16th.

We have to submit an application. We get approved or disapproved on April nineteenth. Once we get approved, we’re looking to hopefully close in the fall of the next year and then be at one hundred percent in the next twelve months.”

The apartment complex would then be turned over to Locust Street Resource Center based out of Carlinville on a 30-year agreement.

Locust Street, which earlier this year opened an office on the downtown square in Jacksonville, would handle all of the intake and provide the on-site caregivers and case managers at the Tendick Street site.

The Tendick Street location would also have 1 apartment for a 24-hour site manager as well as 24-hour surveillance and facilities that could host meetings or appointments for residents of the development.

Ben Cox also contributed to this story