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Local News

Rialto marquee renovations on hold until Joliet theater finds donor

The Rialto Square Theatre marquee as it looked on the night an ill-fated marquee donation was announced in Novmeber 2014.
The Rialto Square Theatre marquee as it looked on the night an ill-fated marquee donation was announced in Novmeber 2014.

JOLIET – The Rialto Square Theatre marquee renovations have reached a standstill until money can be found to move forward.

The Rialto board on Wednesday approved a contract for a construction manager on the contract. But the $26,895 contract with R. Berti Building Solutions of Crest Hill is on hold until money is available.

“The construction manager will have the responsibility of putting the bid documents together once we have the resources,” Rialto General Manager Randy Green said. “I have no available funds to commit to the project, so I have no timetable.”

Green explained the situation when answering a question from one of several Joliet residents who attend Rialto meetings regularly since a marquee controversy erupted late last year.

It was nearly a year ago – Nov. 24, 2014 – when Green announced a $350,000 donation that was going to pay for a new marquee and other improvements at the Rialto. But a public uprising against the design of the new marquee eventually led to the project being stopped with the sign in mid-construction and the donor taking back his $350,000.

Now, the Rialto is looking for another donor or some source of revenue to pay for marquee renovations.

The Rialto board has agreed to keep the existing marquee with renovations while updating it with digital lighting and messaging.

Green on Wednesday would not put a price tag on the renovation project or set a number for how big a donation the Rialto is seeking. In June, he said one estimate put the electronic renovations for the existing marquee at more than $40,000. The Rialto also has spent about $200,000 on the unfinished marquee.

Berti was selected for the marquee contract after the Rialto sent out requests for proposals to three companies, Green said. A proposal from Harbour Contractors in Plainfield was higher at $41,685. The third company opted not to enter a proposal, Green said.

Rialto buildings for sale?

The Rialto board also voted to seek proposals from appraisers to determine the value of two office buildings that it can sell if it chooses.

Green said the Rialto theater itself cannot be sold.

But Will County Metropolitan Exposition and Auditorium Authority, the legal name for the agency that controls the Rialto and other properties downtown, received authority through state legislation several years ago to sell two neighboring office buildings.

Green said an appraisal was done in 2007 before the recession changed the real estate market.

“We have to look at what the value is and what the market is today,” he said.

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