JOLIET – Joliet Junior College moved one step closer to acquiring the property that downtown restaurant Chicken-N-Spice sits on.
The JJC board approved purchasing the land, building and lease located at 251 N. Chicago Street in downtown Joliet in a 7-1 vote, with trustee Alicia Morales voting against it.
JJC Spokeswoman Kelly Rohder said in an email that the college tentatively negotiated making the purchase from the Roberts family, who own the property, for $280,000, plus associated costs.
JJC is working through the logistics to have the contract documents signed by all parties involved and she didn’t have a firm date on when that would be completed.
For now, JJC will honor the lease agreement Chicken-N-Spice has with the Roberts family.
“We will honor their lease agreement through 2022 and, most importantly, continue to be a good neighbor,” Rohder said.
JJC officials have spoken about their intent to acquire the property as part of a development project for the surrounding site of the City Center campus building that opened last January.
Chicken-N-Spice is located right across the building, which also has two restaurants run by students in the college’s culinary arts program called Saveur and Thrive.
College officials plan to create more parking for students and develop a pedestrian mall for site beautification. The college has also begun demolishing the old Sheraton Motor Inn connected to the college’s Renaissance Center as part of this effort.
The news last August of JJC seeking to acquire the downtown property was a shock to many customers of Chicken-N-Spice. The response from customers overwhelmed the restaurant, which ran out of chicken chunks during the weekend when the news hit.
Pat Reimer, owner of the restaurant, has said she wants to keep it downtown. JJC officials have said they’ve offered – along with Joliet city officials – to help connect the restaurant to any relocation opportunities.