GARY, Ind. (CBS) — You paid for it – a $1.5 million dollar government loan approved in 2011 for an affordable housing project in Gary.
But the City of Gary is taking the developer to court and trying to get their money back because work has stopped altogether on the incomplete project.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Record Warmth Possible Next 2 Days
John Allen, a Gary resident, drives by the vacant building every day at 7th and Broadway.
“The building has been languishing for so long that we’ve got a broken window here,” Allen said, pointing out a wooden board and a pile of broken glass at the property.
Back in 2011, the City of Gary approved the $1.5 million dollar loan with no interest for 20 years. Then in 2013, another $70,000 was approved.
“I don’t think of a million dollars when I look at this,” Allen said. “I think of a waste.”
Construction started but, over the years, it “stalled on several occasions based on various explanations” and “the project has not moved to completion,” according to a recent monitoring report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The city’s loan to the developer was funded largely by a grant HUD gave the City of Gary in 2010.
The City of Gary won’t comment because it’s suing over the stalled project. Gary is requesting a judgement on the “unpaid principal balance” of $1.57 million dollars plus interest and the city is trying to foreclose to get the property back, according to court documents filed last fall.
The loan recipient is 747 Broadway Plaza, LLC. The man who signed to get the loan is John Coldea.
Coldea and a business partner were also hired in 2015 to build a firehouse for the Lake Township Volunteer Fire Department about 30 miles from Gary. He was sued there too, and court documents say the men “for all intents and purposes, walked off the job” and even presented a forged bond to the township.READ MORE: Illinois Department Of Employment Security Admits To Monthlong Callback Wait Times; State Rep. Says Methods Must Change
The township had to hire other contractors to finish the firehouse. Meanwhile, the township’s lawyer, Kevin Smith, says Coldea never showed up to court.
Earlier this year, a judge ruled that the men owe $1.2 million dollars to the township.
Coldea was also arrested in a 2015 prostitution sting and pleaded guilty to a charge of Solicitation of a Sexual Act in Lake County, Illinois. He was sentenced to a year of supervision.
If you ask Allen, Coldea should have been spending his time elsewhere.
“Of course, finishing the building (in Gary),” Allen said.
CBS 2 went to his home in the Chicago suburbs to ask him where the money from the loan is, but no one answered the door.
Meanwhile, a stack of building materials sits behind the unfinished project in Gary. The city’s lawsuit mentions multiple liens on the property.
“I think it’s terrible,” Allen said.
Allen said he is especially fed up because the Gary Housing Authority is trying to force out his business down the street, an event space that he’d like to turn into a restaurant, to make way for another affordable housing project.
“While you have something like this, here, that’s incomplete,” Allen said.MORE NEWS: The United Center COVID-19 Mass Vaccination Site: An Inside Look
A hearing on the city’s lawsuit is scheduled for May.