The burst water line that damaged all six floors of the Two Rialto Square building last week was a reminder of the extensive to-do list for the theater properties.
The agency that oversees the Two Rialto Square office building and the Rialto Square Theatre next door has developed a lengthy list of repairs for the two properties but still is looking for a way to pay for them. Maintenance needs over the next 10 years are estimated to cost somewhere between $8 million and $10 million.
The Will County Metropolitan Exposition and Auditorium Authority in June sent a five-year maintenance plan to the city of Joliet, complying with a condition in the authority’s funding agreement with the city.
The plan includes pricey items, including replacement of a leaking cooling tower and roof repairs, but does not indicate how much they will cost or if the authority has the funds.
Authority Chairman Robert Filotto said the money is not there.
“We have issues come up like we did this week, and it just sets us back even further,” Filotto said.
The cost of last week’s damage is still unknown, although Filotto said he expects it to be more than the $10,000 in damage when a heat pump broke in the building a year ago.
The leak was discovered early Monday. A restoration crew was at the building throughout the week.
“It is still a work in progress,” said Rialto Square Theatre Executive Director Val Devine.
The authority has no taxing power. It depends on theater revenues, office rents and an annual $500,000 contribution from the city to stay in business.
Filotto and fellow board members early this year began approaching local legislators for help in changing the state law that created the authority in such a way as to give it taxing authority. The message, Filotto said, was wait until after the November election.
Board member Joe Carlasare, who heads the board’s building committee, said he’s been frustrated by the lack of response from legislators.
“I’ve written to several legislators asking them to come to a building committee meeting. For some reason, they’ve been unable to do that,” Carlasare said.
The authority is revisiting a question that has recurred for years, Carlasare said: Whether it should keep the Two Rialto Square building or sell it.
“We seem to be coming up against the same frustrations that prior boards have had,” he said. “We don’t have money to repair that building.”