JOLIET – The city of Joliet is looking for ways to redevelop sections of the neighborhood around Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center.
Efforts are being focused in the area south and west of the hospital, including the one-block section between Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center and Jefferson Street.
The city last week announced it is pursuing the possibility of a tax increment financing district. A TIF district is an area in which assessed property values are frozen at their current level. The difference in tax revenue generated between the frozen tax value and present-day value goes into a special TIF fund to be used for improvements to properties within the district.
City Manager Jim Hock said one goal would be to give the hospital exposure on Jefferson Street. He pointed to the closed Just Toni’s restaurant and the neighboring Fenton Motel on Jefferson Street near Springfield Avenue as possibilities for redevelopment.
It was the second time in two weeks that city officials mentioned some kind of plan for redevelopment of the hospital neighborhood.
In his State of the City speech Jan. 27, Mayor Bob O’Dekirk singled out Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center as the largest employer in town and made a general reference to the city showing some kind of support for the hospital.
“In 2016, I would like to see the city make a bigger commitment to Saint Joseph hospital,” O’Dekirk said in his speech. “Saint Joseph’s has made a commitment to Joliet. They stayed in Joliet. I think the city of Joliet should make the same commitment to Saint Joseph hospital.”
Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center became the only hospital in Joliet after Silver Cross Hospital moved to New Lenox in 2012. When Silver Cross announced its plans to relocate, questions were raised as to whether the city could have done more to accommodate the hospital’s needs at its Joliet location.
O’Dekirk said Friday that the discussions between the city and Saint Joseph hospital officials have been general.
“I’ve talked with the people there about trying to spruce up the area around Saint Joseph,” O’Dekirk said. “It’s been general talk, but I think there’s an agreement that we both would be well-served by making the area look a little nicer.”
Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center, in response to questions about what sort of redevelopment officials there might be considering, issued a general statement saying in part, “The enhancement of the area surrounding Saint Joe’s, and the west side, is vital to the experience of our patients and their families, our associates, and is likewise important to our neighboring businesses. We look forward to collaborating with the city to support the economic development of Joliet.”