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Joliet sublease charges $25,000 rent for prison haunted house

Evil Intentions would rent the former women's prison on the northeast corner or Collins Street and Woodruff Road.
Evil Intentions would rent the former women's prison on the northeast corner or Collins Street and Woodruff Road.

JOLIET – The city would charge $25,000 a year rent while providing up to $100,000 in credits in a sublease agreement with Evil Intentions, the company that plans to put a haunted house in a building at the old Joliet Correctional Center.

The sublease agreement, which is designed to provide incentives for building renovations, goes to the city council for a vote on Tuesday.

The $100,000 "tenant improvement credit" would be used "against any expenses incurred in the restoration of the building," according to a staff memo accompanying the sublease.

"Partnering with this company is the first step in the revitalization of this property," the memo states.

The sublease requires Evil Intentions to take on building restoration and maintenance at the space it uses, while providing the opportunity to recover up to $100,000 of those costs through the tenant improvement credit.

The city is responsible for sidewalks, parkways, exterior grounds, and water and sewer connections leading to and from the building.

The sublease provides for a renegotiation of the terms of the sublease if the tenant improvement credit exceeds $25,000 at the end of the one-year lease "or otherwise reach an accord which settles the balance."

Evil Intentions this week announced its plan to open a Joliet Haunted Prison in the coming Halloween season. The haunted house would go in the former women's prison across Collins Street from the main prison.

If the project proceeds as planned it would be the first re-use of the prison property since the Illinois Department of Corrections closed the facility in 2002.

Joliet in December signed onto a five-year lease with the state that city officials said would provide an opportunity to gain some control of the property and attempt to put it back to use.

City officials for years have looked for a way to market the prison without taking on the millions of dollars of repairs needed to renovate the entire facility.

The sublease for Evil Intentions puts the expense of restoration and maintenance for that one building on the tenant, while also offering the incentive of deducting those costs from the rent.

"There's no way we could have anyone in that building without doing the work," Joliet Economic Development Director Steve Jones said.

Jones said the tenant credit could be used to renovate other sections of the prison if more companies want access to the facility.

The staff memo states that city inspectors have discussed with Evil Intentions standards that will have to be met before the company gets an occupancy permit to use the building. Some matters that will have to be addressed include "escape routes, exiting, fire suppression, lighting, washrooms, class 1 flame-spreading on interior walls and decorations," the memo states.

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