JOLIET – The opening of Dick’s Sporting Goods in Joliet last week marked another one of those moments when shoppers such as Tanya Prena could enjoy staying nearer to home when visiting one of their favorite stores.
“I’ve always loved this store,” said Prena, a Plainfield resident and Dick’s shopper. “I’m so happy it’s close. I’ve always had to go to the Lombard or Oswego area. I’m so happy it’s close to home.”
Comments like Prena’s were common Friday morning among Dick’s shoppers.
The Joliet area has seen many retail chains moving into town, making it a little less likely locals have to leave to visit their favorite stores.
The march of new retail into the area picked up a bit this year after being slowed down by the recession. Fresh Thyme Farmers Market opened in June with many customers raving they would no longer need to travel for organic groceries.
But it may be a short parade in Joliet. The DSW shoe store opening Nov. 5 next door to Dick’s in the Joliet Commons shopping center is the only new store on the horizon.
DSW’s arrival, however, is satisfying to Julie Ivik of Joliet, who also was at Dick’s last week.
“That’s one of my favorite places,” Ivik said.
Ivik said she doesn’t mind leaving town to go to a store. She likes to shop. But having places closer to home is good, too, she said.
“An outlet mall here would be nice,” she said.
In the pre-recession days, an outlet mall somewhere in or near Joliet often popped up as a possibility, but it never happened.
I-55 and I-80 plans
Joliet also missed out on the Bridge Street Town Centre, a huge lifestyle shopping center that was to be built at the crossroads of Interstates 55 and 80. The plan faded when the economy collapsed.
Such a project would have appealed to Felicia Tatroe of Elwood.
“We do a lot of shopping at Oakbrook [Center],” Tatroe said. “They have all kinds of stores, and they have great restaurants.”
Tatroe also travels to the Yorktown Center in Lombard, which, she said, has “a huge Carson’s” and a Von Maur.
Von Maur, an upscale department store chain, had announced plans to come to the Bridge Street Town Centre – if it had been built.
Maybe it will again.
The project, or a scaled-down version, has a chance of being revived since East Peoria-based Cullinan Properties acquired the site in July from O&S Holdings, who laid out plans for a lifestyle center.
The Cullinan Properties website describes the 300-acre Joliet site as a potential mixed-use lifestyle center with stores, restaurants, hotels, offices and residents – sounding a lot like what O&S once proposed.
Cullinan Chief Operating Officer Christopher West, however, said there is nothing to announce.
“It’s still early on in the process in negotiating with prospective tenants,” West said.
Cullinan still has a big hurdle to overcome, which is to develop an access route to the 300-acre site it owns. Financing an interstate ramp to the future shopping center always was a stumbling block in the O&S plan.
Even so, the Cullinan website notes the interstate crossroads gives the site exposure to 275,000 vehicles a day.
“We really view it as a gateway to Joliet,” West said.
Hints of Costco
Back at Dick’s, Ed Hodgson of Crest Hill said he was glad to have the store near home and added, “It would be nice to have a Costco that’s close.”
Funny he should mention that, since Costco is reported to be reviving its pre-recession plan to become the anchor for a new shopping center planned for a Plainfield site at Interstate 55 and Route 30.
Also in the category of big stores, Blain’s Farm & Fleet plans to begin construction next spring on a 122,000-square-foot store at the corner of Weber and Airport roads in Romeoville.
The new stores make it easier for Hodgson to fulfill his sense of civic duty.
“I tend to stay more around the Joliet area,” he said. “I want to see my sales tax dollars stay here.”