JOLIET – Catholic Charities may move offices into one of the old Diocese of Joliet buildings that were vacated three years ago.
The plan marks the first potential re-use of the property since the Diocese of Joliet left the three-building complex and moved to its current offices in Crest Hill in December 2013.
The diocese no longer owns the property located along Bridge Street between Center and Summit streets. It was sold on Sept. 28 to a group of private investors.
Catholic Charities is looking at leasing the former chancery building on Summit Street. The entire building would be used for administrative offices for the Head Start program if they are moved there, Executive Director Glenn Van Cura said.
But Catholic Charities also is looking at other sites, Van Cura said.
“We have several sites we’re looking into. It comes down to costs,” Van Cura said.
The building has to be made compliant with building standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act, which has an impact on the potential cost, Van Cura said.
“We’d like to move there, but it has to be cost-effective,” he said.
The property also needs a zoning variation for Catholic Charities to move in.
The old chancery building actually is on a lot that was never changed from residential zoning when it was built, said Kendall Jackson, community development director for Joliet.
The Joliet Zoning Board of Appeals will consider the variation when it meet at 2 p.m. Jan. 19.
“In order to contain the offices, they have to get the variation,” Jackson said.
Van Cura said he plans to attend the zoning board meeting.
So does Georgene Williams, a member of the St. John’s Neighborhood Association that has been concerned about potential uses of the property. Williams was among association members who opposed a previous plan by the diocese to use the building at 430 N. Center St. for a recovery program for ex-convicts.
Williams said she did not have any immediate objections to the plan for Head Start offices in the chancery building.
“If it’s an office only, I don’t see anything wrong with offices,” Williams said.
But she said neighbors do want to learn more about the investors’ plans for the two other buildings, which include the one-time bishop’s house on Bridge Street. Williams said the new property owners are expected to come to the next St. John’s Neighborhood Association meeting, which also will Jan. 19 but at 6:30 p.m. at St. John’s Church.
Head Start administrative offices currently are in a downtown building that has been sold, Van Cura said. Other Catholic Charities already have been moved to the diocese campus in Crest Hill.