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Local News

Rialto terra cotta job will go into the winter

Construction workers organize terra cotta pieces as renovation work of the exterior of the historic Rialto Theater is done Oct. 15. in Joliet.
Construction workers organize terra cotta pieces as renovation work of the exterior of the historic Rialto Theater is done Oct. 15. in Joliet.

JOLIET – Crews plan to work into the winter in an effort to make the Rialto Square Theatre exterior a little more appealing to brides by June.

The replacement of the terra cotta parapet at the Rialto – being done for the first time since the theater was built in 1926 – has proved more difficult than expected.

Rialto Building General Manager Mike Biedron met with contractor Bulley & Andrews Masonry Construction last week and learned that work “in earnest” was not likely to get going until mid-November – about the time the job was originally expected to be completed.

The plan now is to work under winter conditions – doing any work possible until temperatures drop below 32 degrees and then wrapping up the terra cotta until warmer temperatures allow work to resume, Biedron said.

That plan, Biedron said, “could get us into December and maybe into January.”

The problem for Biedron and others at the Rialto is that they would like to have the scaffolding around the Rialto gone by the time the summer wedding season starts. The theater makes a nice setting for wedding party photos, but not so much when it is surrounded by scaffolding.

The entire project has been delayed by an effort to get just the right coloring so the replacement terra cotta matches what is on the building. Pieces of terra cotta have just begun to arrive from a manufacturer in England. Unfortunately, they have not been coming in the order needed to install the parapet.

“It’s not unusual for things to go wrong during construction phases,” Biedron said. “You work through it. There are other jobs being done. But when the material does not come through, you can’t do anything.”

Contractor Bulley & Andrews still is waiting to get terra cotta pieces in the right order so that construction can move forward.

“We are receiving pieces,” said Jeff Reist, senior project manager on the Rialto job for Bulley & Andrews. “It’s receiving enough pieces and in the correct order so that we can begin work.”

Reist said more pieces of terra cotta are expected to arrive this week. But he did not expect enough terra cotta pieces to arrive to do any significant work until the week of Nov. 9.

“We’re still working through these issues, so we’re not entirely confident on the completion date,” Reist said.

The goal is to finish by June. As to whether that can be done, Reist said, “The possibility is there.”

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