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August 28, 2002

Governor Tours East St. Louis Affordable Housing Development
Highlights the Illinois Workforce Advantage Program

EAST ST. LOUIS -- Governor George H. Ryan today visited Parsons Place, a 174-unit, multi-family rental, mixed-income development that has revitalized a 12-block, formerly blighted area of East St. Louis.

The State of Illinois provided financial assistance for the construction of Parson’s Place through the Governor’s Illinois FIRST program, the Illinois Housing Development Authority and the Southwestern Illinois Development Authority.

Illinois FIRST provided two grants, totaling $4.8 million, toward the construction of affordable housing development and related sewer and utility improvements.

"With a safe new place to live and a supportive environment to learn new skills for advancement in the workforce, the residents of Parson's Place have the resources available to make a better future for themselves and for their families," said Governor Ryan.

The Parsons Place project was developed jointly by McCormack Baron and Associates and the Emerson Park Development Corporation. Parsons Place is adjacent to the new 15th Street Emerson Park MetroLink Station and within blocks of the new Jackie Joyner-Kersee Boys and Girls Club. The project is the first phase of what will eventually consist of more than 300 units of affordable rental and 100 units of for-sale housing planned for this neighborhood.

Parsons Place, estimated to cost $22 million, involves the redevelopment of a 23-acre site that is bisected by the MetroLink right-of-way. The overall project includes land acquisition, construction of major public infrastructure improvements and the construction of 174 affordable housing units. A subsequent stage of the housing development, designed to bring an additional 144 affordable housing units, is scheduled for construction in 2003.

The Illinois Housing Development Authority provided a total of $15.75 million in low-interest financing for the development construction including: $3 million first mortgage through its Risk Sharing Program; $750,000 via its Affordable Housing Trust Fund; and $12 million in federal Tax Credit equity.

The Southwestern Illinois Development Authority exercised quick take eminent domain authority to secure land for the project and also provided a $635,000 loan.

"Constructing Parsons Place has been a team effort from the very beginning," Ryan said. "With the help of neighborhood groups, community involvement and partnerships with state and local government, the dream of affordable housing in East St. Louis is now a reality."

Other assistance was provided by East St. Louis, the Greater St. Louis Regional Empowerment Zone, and the Enterprise Community. In addition, playground equipment for neighborhood parks was donated by St. Louis Children's Hospital through its Healthy Kids at Play Program.

While at Parson’s Place, Governor Ryan also thanked Brenda Hicks of the Alpha Omega Work Readiness Center and other community leaders for their dedication toward improving opportunities for the residents of East St. Louis and in particular Parson’s Place. He credited the Illinois Workforce Advantage (IWA) program as a driving force in the community for improving the economic and social infrastructure of depressed communities.

Better Family Life, an IWA grant recipient, has set up a program in the the Alpha Omega Work Readiness Center, using its own resources to make extensive interior renovations to the facility, putting in new floors, walls, ceilings and electrical wiring. It is also holding classes with TANF clients referred through local IDHS offices and placing people in jobs. IWA is also supporting the Neighborhood Technical Assistance Center in East St. Louis with its efforts to create a network of community tech centers.


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