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Local News

Joliet City Council gives favorable nod to Union Station lease

Bussean banquet hall likely to stay

The Grand Ballroom at Joliet Union Station banquet facility on Thursday, May 28.
The Grand Ballroom at Joliet Union Station banquet facility on Thursday, May 28.

JOLIET – Joliet City Council members, including two former opponents, said Monday they likely would support a renewed lease with the banquet operator at Union Station.

The council will vote at a later date on a proposed 10-year lease with Bussean Custom Caterers, which has operated out of the former train station since 2001.

The proposal got a favorable review from council members at their workshop meeting.

Councilman Jim McFarland, who said previously that the lease should be opened up for other proposals, said he now favors working out another agreement with Bussean.

“The only caveat that I would have is looking at a five-year lease rather than a 10-year lease,” McFarland said.

McFarland said he could support the lease after a market analysis done for the city by a private real estate broker. The analysis determined that a monthly lease of $9,651 “is more than fair to both parties,” City Manager Jim Hock said. Bussean has proposed paying $10,000 a month.

McFarland was alone in calling for the lease to be reduced to five years, although other council members said they could support a re-opener in the agreement allowing both parties to review the rent after five years.

An attorney for the banquet business said owner Jeffrey Bussean needs a 10-year lease to recoup investments planned for Union Station.

“He intends to invest at least a quarter-million dollars into the property, and those are investments that would stay with the property,” attorney George Schoenbeck told the council.

Hock said the lease, when completed, would be presented to a council committee before being brought back to the full council for a vote.

On May 28, a combined council committee voted 3-2 to open up the lease to proposals from other banquet operators. At that meeting, Mayor Bob O’Dekirk said the lease should be brought to the full council as soon as possible and suggested a vote there would be different.

Councilman Larry Hug also voted at the committee meeting to seek other bidders, but said then that he could be persuaded otherwise if a market analysis showed $10,000 a month was a good rate for the city. Hug said Monday that he could support a renewal of Bussean’s lease.

Salvation Army store

The council meets again Tuesday for its regular meeting when it will consider a special use permit for a Salvation Army store.

The Salvation Army wants to move into the Century Tile store, which is still in business at 1395 S. Larkin Ave. The 22,000-square-foot building was built in 1984 for Frank’s Nursery & Crafts, which later went out of business.

Hock noted Monday that Salvation Army formerly had a store in downtown Joliet, but the store was displaced in the early 1990s by the construction of Harrah’s Casino and a parking deck.

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