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Local News

City council gets update on downtown plan

JOLIET – The city needs to target young adults to maximize its long-term redevelopment efforts downtown.

That was the message Monday night from Bill James, a consultant with the Chicago-based Camiros Consultant Group that was hired by the city earlier this year, as he updated the Joliet City Council with the group’s progress on the City Center Master Plan.

“I think we’ve found the right market,” James said.

The downtown area has strong potential for a low-cost rental market with its already-existing college presence with University of St. Francis and Joliet Junior College, he said. The downtown area also has an “edgy, urban character” that doesn’t deter young adults from relocating here, he added.

The “plentiful space” of low-cost, older buildings suitable for conversions will work in the city’s favor, he said.

“[Joliet] has more activity than your typical suburban downtown,” James said. “It also has that edgy, urban character that young people are going to find more attractive [than older individuals would.]”

The city center plan is focusing on economic development and building upon already-existing assets in entertainment and retail uses by looking at its inventory of existing buildings.

In other news:

• City Manager Jim Hock recommended that the Council approve a $196,600 contract with L. Marshall Inc. for Phase I of the Joliet Union Station roof rehabilitation project.

The project, to be done in two phases, will eliminate leaks throughout the building. Of critical concern is the section of roof over the proposed security equipment for the Transportation Center project.

The second phrase of the project will be re-bid in the spring, Hock said. A portion of the project will be funded by the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity through a $130,000 grant.

• City council members are poised to hear from the Joliet Park District Tuesday night about its $19.5 million referendum that’s on the Nov. 4 ballot. The money would go towards planned security and safety improvements within local parks, a new activity center on the city’s East Side, and other reforestation efforts.

If it passes, residents would pay an additional $20.50 a year per $100,000 home value on the park district portion of their taxes.

The Council will decide following the presentation whether they want to pass a resolution in support of the referendum.

• The Council also will consider doubling the fines for handicapped parking space violators in an effort to stem what some community leaders believe to be a major issue.

The fine would increase from $250 to $500 under a recommendation from the City Council’s Land Use and Legislative Committee.

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