Elgin Housing Authority to rehab senior tower, tear down mansion
By Mike Danahey email@example.com September 6, 2012 9:02PM
Damon Duncan became Executive Director of the Housing Authority of Elgin in January of 2012. The Housing Authority of Elgin has big remodeling plans for Central Park Tower, the affordable senior housing complex along Route 31. Along with the tower, the house next door will be tore down, and a new senior housing building will go up. September 5, 2012 | Michael Smart~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 9, 2012 2:07PM
ELGIN — The troubled home just south of Central Park Tower along State Street (Route 31) is set to be demolished later this year as part of a plan to redevelop the affordable senior housing offered at the apartment complex.
According to Damon Duncan, the new executive director of the Housing Authority of Elgin, the agency — which operates the tower — purchased the house in late August. The house will be torn down to make way for a mid-rise building with a community feel that will go along with renovations to the housing in the tower, which opened in 1970.
The project will cost between $20 - $25 million, and the between the two buildings will hold 150 units for seniors, offering the same total number the tower now does. Low-income housing tax credits are to be secured this fall, with the plan to start construction next summer, Duncan said.
Duncan recently met with Elgin police, who intend to use the old home next to the tower for training exercises before it is demolished.
Duncan noted the home has been an issue for the neighborhood for quite some time. Most recently, 132 S. State St. was in the news when Nora Peterson, 34, was charged with a murder that authorities said occurred in one of the converted home’s apartments. She is accused of striking Michael Mielczarek, 55, with a frying pan during a domestic argument Aug. 18 in their apartment, eventually killing him.
The autopsy report from the Kane County Coroner’s Office noted Mielczarek had three head wounds — at least one that probably came from the frying pan, and another from hitting the floor. Peterson was being held in the Kane County jail with bail set at $750,000.
Only two tenants, who are not housing authority clients, are living in the converted mansion. The Housing Authority is working with the two to find them other places to live, Duncan said.
The Housing Authority has been part of Elgin since 1966 and was established under the federal Housing Authority Act. Duncan said HAE oversees 255 units of public housing it owns across eight buildings as well as 940 Section 8 housing voucher units across northern Kane County and an adjacent portion of Cook County.
A board that oversees the organization is appointed by the mayor and city council. The board is made up of a city council member (currently Robert Gilliam), a tenant, and three at-large community members.
The organization has an $11 million budget and reports to the federal department of Housing and Urban Development.
Duncan replaced Eunice Lawshea and came to his Elgin post in January from Atlanta, where he was working in the private sector as a consultant on public housing matters. Prior to that, he worked in his native Detroit as an administrator for the Detroit Housing Commission. A graduate of Eastern Michigan University with a master’s degree from Central Michigan, Duncan has more than 20 years’ experience in public housing-related fields.
“I like being close to a big city and not too far from home,” Duncan said of coming to the Elgin area.
Since taking the job, “I’ve been working to reshape the culture and to empower people to do their jobs,” Duncan said.
Moves to that end have included offering a variety of training classes to the staff of 20 full-time and two part-time employees, and doing away with nepotism issues that had arisen at the authority, Duncan said.
Duncan said another project on which the authority is working is reshaping the image of the Clifford Court public housing complex at 691 Clifford Court near the west bank of the Fox River. To that end, the authority is working with Judson University, which is not far from the complex.
And Judson’s architecture department will be working on the plans for the redevelopment of Central Park Tower, Duncan said.