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Local News

Developer eyes Joliet interstate site for warehouses

JOLIET – The crossroads of Interstates 55 and 80, once planned for a large lifestyle retail mall, now is being eyed for warehouse development.

The plan, called the "Hillwood Proposal," is on the Joliet City Council Economic Development Committee's agenda Wednesday.

Outgoing Mayor Thomas Giarrante said Monday the proposal is in its early stages. But the plan is to develop about 40 acres for retail and more than 200 acres for warehouses.

"We wanted to save it for retail. But the retail business is not turning around as fast as we hoped," Giarrante said.

At one time, O&S Holdings, a California-based developer, planned to build a 1.5-million-square-foot lifestyle mall at the site. The new plan provides less than a quarter of that amount of space for retail.

The O&S plan also included a man-made waterway, 200,000 square feet of office space and 800 residential units.

Construction was to begin in 2008 on the project, called Bridge Street Town Centre, with stores opening in 2011. But the development never materialized after the economic recession hit.

Councilman Larry Hug said the opportunity for a large, lifestyle mall probably ended with the last economic boom.

"I'd be surprised if anyone decided to put a project like that anywhere in the next decade," Hug said. "I don't know if a lifestyle mall is a serious consideration – or at least as large a lifestyle mall."

Hug said the new plan calls for nearly 350,000 square feet of retail. Another 3.3 million square feet would be developed for industrial use.

Other details of the plan, Hug said, include 2,027 parking spaces for employees and customers. Another 747 spaces are planned for trailers, which would be used at the warehouses.

"It sounds promising when you have 2,027 parking spots," he said.

One stumbling block for the lifestyle mall also poses a problem for the new proposal, Giarrante said. The property needs access. There are no ramps off of either interstate onto the site now.

O&S was looking for interstate ramps to bring vehicles to the property.

Giarrante said the new proposal, in the northeast corner of the interchange, seeks access from Jefferson Street and Houbolt Road.

The Economic Development Committee meets at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday in the City Council Chamber.

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