JOLIET – Another attempt is in the works to develop an old quarry site on Route 6 and Empress Road in Joliet, where deep bedrock and the land’s contour has foiled past development efforts.
A new obstacle may have arisen, however: resistance to more truck traffic.
Kyle Schuhmacher with Ketone Partners presented last week a proposal to build 1.2 million square feet of industrial space with access to a barge-loading facility on the Des Plaines River.
Schuhmacher acknowledged when he introduced his plan to the Joliet City Council Land Use and Legislative Committee that the site has proved difficult to develop.
But he said the market for industrial sites with access to barges could make a difference this time, although he acknowledged the site would produce some truck traffic, which was a bigger concern to Councilwoman Jan Quillman.
“I’m just tired of the trucks,” Quillman said, who said the proposal should go to the full council for consideration.
James Haller, the city’s director of community and economic development, said the site has been difficult to develop because of deep bedrock and because the slope of the land as it declines to the Des Plaines River.
One previous developer proposed blasting out the site and leveling the land but never moved forward, Haller said.
Joliet attorney Thomas Osterberger, representing Ketone, said this proposal would not generate as many trucks as the last development plan for the site approved by the city, which proposed 2.8 million square feet of industrial space.
He also noted the site is less than a mile from Interstate 80. But Quillman commented that I-80 is congested with traffic now in mid-afternoon.
John Greuling, chief executive officer for the Will County Center for Economic Development, said at the meeting the development would have “minimal impact on I-80” and the barge terminal would offer an alternative to trucks.
“We’ve had a lot of inquiries about barge terminals along the river,” he said. “That’s good news because that takes trucks off the road.”