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Local News

City negotiates prison deal with unnamed firm

Joliet is negotiating with an unnamed company to open an attraction in the former women's prison building at the Old Joliet Prison.
Joliet is negotiating with an unnamed company to open an attraction in the former women's prison building at the Old Joliet Prison.

Joliet is negotiating with a company to put in some kind of operation in the Old Joliet Prison but won’t say who it is or what they plan to do.

The company was the only one to respond to a request for proposals sent to about 30 prospects, Joliet Deputy City Manager Steve Jones said.

He described the prospect as “a pretty significant national firm,” but would not identify the company or detail what it planned to do at the prison. He did say “part of what this company does is haunted houses.”

The city is seeking an attraction at the former women’s prison on the other side of Collins Street from the main prison. A request for proposals was made late last year.

In 2018, Evil Intentions, a group that runs a haunted house in Elgin of the same name, was working on one for the women’s prison. But the project never developed.

The city denied a request under the Freedom of Information Act seeking the release of the current proposal, saying that it does not need to be released “until a final selection is made.”

“We’re still negotiating with somebody,” interim City Attorney Chris Regis said. “Now is the due diligence period.”

The city’s exclusive negotiations with Evil Intentions in 2018 led to protests from two local haunted house operators who did not get a chance to develop a proposal.

This time, the city developed a request for proposals. Jones noted responses were not limited to the 30 prospects contacted by the city.

Paul Siegel, who hosts Statesville Haunted House on his farm in Crest Hill, said Tuesday that he was unaware of the request for proposals. Siegel was one of the two local haunted house operators who objected to the process a year ago.

Apparently unhappy with the process again, Siegel said that “they sent out 30 [requests for proposals], but not to the person who’s closest and most apropos for what they want to do.”

Jones said he did send out the request to one of the two local operators who protested the process a year ago but did not identify which one.

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