JOLIET – The city’s new downtown consultants are ready to bring Chicago Street back to life and make the downtown the center of the community.
“You’ve had extensive planning activities over decades in the downtown and it’s time to make things happen,” Leslie Pollock, principal consultant for Camiros Consultant Group, a Chicago-based planning and design firm, told the Joliet City Council on Tuesday. “We’re focused on making things happen. We’re not just focused on creating a plan.”
Pollock said key challenges include reinventing Chicago Street, energizing street life, repurposing major buildings, incubating small business, encouraging residential development and building on already established destinations.
“We’re not starting over, we’re building on what you have,” Pollock said.
The council approved hiring Camiros for $125,000, using $75,000 in Downtown TIF funds and a $50,000 contribution from City Center Partnership, to develop its Joliet City Center Master Plan.
Camiros hopes to have an action plan in place within nine months that will create “a buzz or momentum to get people to invest,” Pollock said. “It’s very important that we get people behind this and create interest.”
Councilman John Gerl challenged Camiros and city staff to stay on task during the process.
“I think the last thing we need is a plan that sits on the shelf,” Gerl said. “Chicago Street could be like the LaSalle Street of Chicago if we do this thing right and bring life back to the city of Joliet.”
City Manager Jim Hock said city staff will form a team that will be held accountable to see that the plan is implemented.
Camiros was selected from 13 companies nationwide that responded to a request for proposal on the project, said Pam Owens, executive director of Joliet City Center Partnership. The list was narrowed to six firms that made public presentations in January to a team of Joliet business and government representatives.
“Camiros was unanimously our top choice,” Owens said. “They are without a doubt a perfect fit for this project.”