Springfield Developer Seeking City of Jacksonville’s Help To Build Permanent Housing For Homeless-Disabled At Former Trailer Park Site

By Benjamin Cox on November 30, 2023 at 5:39pm

A Springfield-area developer who is a native of Jacksonville is eyeing a long-vacant trailer park property to develop permanent housing for the homeless and disabled.

Mike Niehaus, a developer for Windsor Homes in Springfield, is applying for available funding for Permanent Supportive Housing through the Illinois Housing Development Authority. The funding would support a nearly $7 million project to build a 24-unit apartment complex in the 1100 block of Tendick Street, at the site of the former Hillcrest mobile home court. Niehaus purchased the three lots of the former mobile home park from Time Out Communities.

Niehaus told the Jacksonville City Council that 90% of the funding could be granted by IHDA, but he must come up with a 10% match to get the project. Niehaus requested that the city chip in $220,000 in either cash or in-kind donations. Niehaus says the in-kind donations could come in the form of waiving permit fees, providing streets, sidewalks, and other infrastructure work to the homes.

Mayor Andy Ezard says that the Tendick property has sat vacant for some time and with Niehaus being a native to Jacksonville, and the current issues the city is facing with a lack of low-income housing and lack of places for the homeless to go, the city should at least listen to the plan: “So, it’s worthwhile taking a look at this project. I don’t know where it is really going to go. I like both sides of the discussion. That property has set vacant for a number of years and it took Mike to kind of step up and say, ‘Hey, I think I got something that might help everyone.’ We have to listen to him. We owe it to him, and we also owe it to our community to listen.”

Ezard says that the City Council’s Finance Committee will meet prior to the City Council meeting on December 11th at 5:30 to decide if there is money to be able to fund the $220,000 request for the project, and whether there is a consensus to support the project.

Between now and then, Ezard says that the community should reach out to their aldermen and make their opinions heard about whether they are in favor of or not for the project: “I understand the need in the community about homelessness and lack of low-income housing. We’ve heard it loud and clear for a lot of years now that it has gotten worse. Everybody has seen it. Everybody knows it. Obviously, [Mike Niehaus] here not to not make money. He’ll make money. In making money, he’ll also help the city. Now, I also see the other side of it. There has been some objections as far as through emails and casual conversations about why this particular area. This area has potential big time to be a development instead of a housing development for people with disabilities and the homeless. Jacksonville needs to think that through. We have plenty of time. The City needs to hear from the general public and their reaction, and we want to hear constituents and what their concerns are on both sides of the argument. This is something that the city didn’t create or come up with as far as going out to get Mike Niehaus. He came to the city with this project. We are teeing it up to see what happens.”

According to the Journal Courier, the funding application for the project will be submitted to IHDA on Jan. 16th and a decision will be made on April 19th. If successful, it will take until fall to get the funding and plans in place, then another year to build, with opening in the Fall of 2025.

The apartment complex would then be turned over to Locust Street Resource Center based out of Carlinville on a 30-year agreement. Locust Street recently opened up an office on the Square in September. The office, located at 60 East Central Park Plaza, opened in the former home of Community Hope & Recovery. Locust Street would do all of the intake and provide the on-site caregivers and case managers at the Tendick Street site. The Tendick location would also have 1 apartment for a 24-hour site manager as well as a building that would act as a conference center to host meetings and appointments for residents of the development.

While funding for the project is still being worked out, the City Council did approve a rezone request of the property from R-6 mobile home park to R-5 multiple-family dwelling unit.

Niehaus has previously designed and help 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.