JOLIET – The Joliet City Council on Tuesday approved an incentive agreement for an entrepreneurial incubator campus planned for downtown.
The agreement, which provides $200,000 in cash, free city land and other incentives once Innovation Pavilion applies for building permits, was approved unanimously with little discussion.
City officials are enthusiastic about the project, which promises to attract young people downtown to a campus where they would develop new business ideas in an environment where they would also live and socialize.
“We have the formula to make that happen,” Innovation Pavilion CEO Vic Ahmed told the council at a Monday workshop meeting.
Innovation Pavilion has one incubator location in Centennial, Colorado, although Ahmed said the company plans on opening them in suburban locations around six major metropolitan areas.
The council voted, 7-0, for the development agreement with Pat Mudron being absent. Mayor Bob O’Dekirk only votes in case of a tie but has voiced his support for the project. Council members expressed enthusiasm for the project at the Monday meeting.
Ahmed was not at the Tuesday meeting. But on Monday he said the company’s innovation campuses will include work space, a conference center, housing for entrepreneurs, a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) school, retail space and other components.
After the meeting, Ahmed told reporters that the company might start in Joliet with one building and continue incrementally in order to get the project going. He said the company likely would apply for building permits within three to six months after the development agreement.
Jones told the council Tuesday is quicker than what he expected.
“That’s something I’m going to have to follow up on, as to whether they’re going to do a partial building,” he said. “That’s not the bigger picture.”
Jones commented after Councilman Michael Turk made the only comment before the vote, asking him how long the project was expected to take.
Jones pointed to the development agreement, which contemplates the project taking three to five years to complete.
The development agreement also describes an overall budget for the project estimated at between $5 million and $15 million.
Innovation Pavilion has presented two preliminary plans for the campus: one would 116,000 square feet of space developed on 2.7 acres along North Joliet Street where the city’s Riverwall Parking lot now exists; the other would costs of 201,000 square feet of space on 4.6 acres at the old Lyons Lumber yard near the new transportation center.