PEORIA (WEEK) - For years, Taft Homes has been in disrepair in Peoria. Many of the apartment homes have boarded up windows and doors. Families still call the public housing home, and soon, they'll have a new home.
"This is not like building a shed in your backyard. This is a huge project, 47 million dollars," explained 1st District Council Member Denise Moore.
Peoria Housing Authority is partnering with Bear Development, LLC who is fronting the initial cost.
"We wanted to make sure that we maintain ownership in the developments and that Bear is a long time partner with us. It's almost like a marriage between the development partner and the PHA," said PHA & Springfield Housing Authority Deputy Director Melissa Huffstedtler.
Current Taft Homes residents will not be forced out of their homes. They'll have first dibs on the new homes as they're built.
"No residents would have to be dislocated from their current units they would still be able to remain, if we demolished all existing units and replaced them with 142 new construction units," said Huffstedtler.
The current residents were consulted by the PHA during the design process. They told the engineers what they wanted their homes to look like, and the PHA listened.
"And the input on the designs came from people who will be living there. That is so important," said Moore.
The outside and inside appearance of Taft Homes isn't the only change that will be made. Peoria Housing Authority Chairman of the Board Carl Cannon said Wednesday the name will change too.
"We're going to get some help in putting a name on what was formerly known as Taft. And make sure it has, whatever it is it's going to have Peoria roots," explained Cannon.
Several groups were represented at Wednesday's special meeting including the Peoria NAACP. President Pastor Marvin Hightower commended the work being done to rejuvenate Taft Homes. But he is concerned about getting the residents and businesses in Peoria involved in the building process.
Council Member Moore recalled the Folkers Avenue Reconstruction that Peoria employed 28 percent minority workers and businesses.
"Minority goals are about 18 percent. We had 28 percent minority participation on that project. That was unheard of in our city," she said.
The PHA said they are working with Bear to reach a minority business involvement goal. The project is slated to be complete by the summer of 2023.