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Local News

Joliet officials tour Peoria, hope for outdoor mall here

JOLIET – Joliet officials last week took a trip to Peoria to visit a couple of shopping centers developed by the company that wants to some day build stores, restaurants and hotels at Interstates 55 and 80.

East Peoria-based Cullinan Properties acquired the 264-acre site in July from a previous developer who planned a similar project before the recession hit.

The current plan, however, like that of previous developer O&S Holdings, is at least partially dependent on some sort of direct interstate access to the location.

The I-55 and I-80 interchange is locally called the “crossroads of America” because both interstates cross the country. But there is no off or on ramp at the site.

Cullinan Properties notes that an estimated 230,000 vehicles on both interstates go past the site daily on its website, which lists “Rock Run Crossings” as an active development.

It’s not clear how active the project is, though, unless some sort of interstate access is developed at the site.

“I think we’re going to find in the next couple of months that we’ll get some definitive news one way or the other,” Mayor Bob O’Dekirk said Monday.

O’Dekirk said some sort of development could occur without direct interstate access, but the scale of the project might be smaller.

The Cullinan website listing for Rock Run Crossings suggests a project comparable to what O&S was considering. Cullinan calls the site “ideal for retail, restaurants, entertainment, hospitality and residential.”

The trip Thursday was primarily to tour two Cullinan developments, said Councilman Larry Hug, chairman of the City Council’s Economic Development Committee. The Joliet contingent, which included City Manager Jim Hock and Economic Development Director Steve Jones, visited the Shoppes at Grand Prairie in Peoria and the Levee District in East Peoria.

Shoppes at Grand Prairie “was very impressive, and it’s what they’re thinking of doing here,” Hug said. “It would be a go. We just need that [interstate] exchange.”

Hug said what he would hope to see is an outdoor mall similar to Shoppes at Grand Prairie. He said the development includes open spaces for public events and is “similar to the concept of a lifestyle mall.”

“That’s kind of what we’re envisioning for Joliet with a local flavor,” he said.

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