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Local News

Restaurants proposed for city-owned building in downtown Joliet

JOLIET – Two potential developers of the former Crabigale’s site in downtown Joliet have proposed restaurants on the first floor but have different plans for the upper two stories.

Crabigale’s was the comedy club that was the last business to operate in the Loughran Building, an 1890 building on the northeast corner of Chicago and Cass streets.

The building went into foreclosure after Crabigale’s closed. The city, which received the building as a donation in 1999 and sold it at a token price to the club owner, later acquired it out of foreclosure for $300,000.

Now, the city has two developers interested in reopening the ground floor as a restaurant, said Kendall Jackson, the city’s director of planning.

“They both involve a full-service restaurant on the first floor,” Jackson said. “Then, the second and third floor build-outs are a little bit different for each. One of them calls for banquet and meeting facilities on the second and third floors. The other calls for residences on the upper floors.”

The city does not propose an outright sale of the building, Jackson said.

Instead, the city would require $300,000 of investment into upgrading the building. Once that threshold is reached, the building would be conveyed to the developer, he said.

The potential developers have not been named. Jackson said they are both individuals with restaurant and redevelopment experience.

The full plans likely are to be made public at a City Council committee meeting yet to be scheduled but likely to occur in January, Jackson said.

The next step, he said, is for a city review committee to interview the two developers in December and score their proposals so a recommendation can be made to the City Council.

City Project Manager Steve Jones said the potential staying power of both developers will be an important factor in the review process.

“The key here is it’s not just looking for someone to fill a space,” Jones said. He said the city is looking for a business person with a sustainable plan and financial wherewithal “to survive the lean years” and build the business over time.

“Both plans that are proposed would match up nicely with our plan downtown to generate more activity,” he said.

The city wants to bring more private business into downtown and is implementing a plan recently developed by the Camiros group that calls for more activity on Chicago Street.

At one point, the owner of the Lockdown Bar and Grill in Chicago planned to open a Joliet version of the restaurant in the Loughran building but abandoned the plan about a year ago.

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