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Local News

Joliet prepares for another busy year in 2017

JOLIET – The city has a busy year ahead redeveloping downtown, preparing for a Houbolt Road bridge and making room for new industrial development.

The city also anticipates taking over Evergreen Terrace at some point, although the process already has lingered months longer than expected.

“All year long, we’ll have the construction of the train station in the downtown area,” City Manager Jim Hock said as he listed off a long to-do list for 2017.

The train station is slated to open by the end of the year and is part of what is expected to be a big year for downtown.

The city continues to negotiate with the county for land that will allow the long-sought reconnection of South Chicago Street with the section of the thoroughfare that goes through the heart of downtown. This project is seen as key to rejuvenating downtown business.

If all goes well, construction could begin by the fall.

“Phase one engineering is about complete on the opening of Chicago Street,” Hock said.

Other downtown projects include reconstruction of a plaza area outside the old Union Station, which the city owns, to be used as a beer garden for a brew pub slated to open next year.

Joliet also plans to begin laying water and sewer lines for the new county courthouse, although construction of the building will not begin in 2017.

Elsewhere in Joliet, the future Houbolt Road bridge is one of the biggest projects in the city.

Joliet expects to hire a project manager in June for the city’s end of the project, the improvement of Houbolt Road and reconstruction of the Interstate 80 interchange. Gov. Bruce Rauner was in Joliet in 2016 to announce public-private funding for the project. CenterPoint Properties is funding the bridge.

Meanwhile, city officials also will pursue state assistance for a future development at Interstates 55 and 80.

Cullinan Properties acquired land in the northeast corner of the interchange for future development of retail and office space. But there is no access off the interstates to the site, which is needed for the development.

Joliet also will continue to see industrial development.

Three distribution centers under construction include one for Ikea furniture at 1.4 million square feet, another for Mars candy at 1.3 million square feet, and a third for Whirlpool appliances at 750,000 square feet.

Another highlight in 2017 will be the opening of Cadence Premier Logistics, a trucking operation that will include a corporate headquarters.

Meanwhile, the controversial and long delayed city takeover of Evergreen Terrace should happen sometime next year.

Hock said the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal from the owners of the low-income apartment complex. But the complexities of the takeover and ongoing litigation make it hard to say when the city will take ownership.

Said Hock, “We will be taking possession hopefully by spring.”

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