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DeKalb won't invest in redevelopment project near NIU

Published: Wednesday, May 28, 2014 10:30 a.m. CDT

DeKALB – DeKalb city leaders say they were pleased to be asked about joining a proposed public-private partnership to redevelop a neighborhood near Northern Illinois University, but they've decided against it.

In a news release issued Wednesday morning, DeKalb City Manager Anne Marie Gaura said city and NIU leaders have discussed ways to address long-term flooding issues around John and Harrison streets.

A local citizens group, Preserve Our Neighborhoods, publicized concerns Tuesday about the proposed partnership called College Town Partners.

In the proposed partnership, NIU, DeKalb, First State Bank, a sister company of Castle Bank, and Steve Irving of Irving Construction would purchase properties, improve infrastructure and mitigate flooding from the west side of Harrison Street to the Kishwaukee River. NIU officials said they have backed away from the partnership, although discussions are continuing.

Gaura lauded the discussions as a sign of increased communication and collaboration between NIU and city officials, but city leaders decided against chipping in money for the project.

"As we evaluate any potential project or partnership for the city, we have to evaluate the best role of the city in fulfilling our obligations as a unit of local government," Gaura said in the news release. "Thus, while we are very pleased to see the discussion of a possible direct partnership on community redevelopment in the College-John area, at this time, the city believes that the university is in a better position to work on a public-private partnership with the city serving as a review agency instead of as a direct partner on the project."

Gaura also promised to work with all concerned parties as plans for redevelopment there continue.

"The city will undoubtedly have a significant role in any such future project and will work to engage all interested parties in the community to develop a plan that addresses public safety concerns arising out of the current neighborhood configuration," the news release states.

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