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Local News

John Bays gets incentives, gives project update

John Bays has been renovating the Catholic Charities building at Cass and Ottawa streets for a downtown restaurant.
John Bays has been renovating the Catholic Charities building at Cass and Ottawa streets for a downtown restaurant.

JOLIET – Downtown developer John Bays told the City Council this week that he still is holding out for a chain restaurant at the Catholic Charities building.

The council on Tuesday approved tax incentives for the remodeling of the building, which also holds Catholic Charities offices.

“I have like eight people who are willing to put in a restaurant right now, but it’s not the names I’m looking for,” Bays said.

Bays, however, said he is talking with chain restaurant companies interested in the building at Cass and Ottawa streets.

He also said he is talking with “a billion-dollar company” interested in office space downtown, and he would like to put them in the Catholic Charities building.

Bays bought the three-story building about a year ago and has been renovating it. The restaurant would go on the first floor.

The council approved a tax increment finance plan for the property, which allows Bays to use the increased property taxes that come with building improvements to offset renovation expenses.

Bays said the big-name restaurant companies he would like to see in the building are waiting to see the city’s plan for opening up Chicago Street become a reality. The project, which is expected to start in 2018 and continue into 2019, is designed to bring more traffic into the heart of the downtown business district.

“I think when you open Chicago Street that’s going to bring in traffic,” Bays said.

He also added a comment on the drawbridges downtown, which at times are shut down for maintenance and create the need for detours for downtown-bound traffic.

“I hope some day one of the bridges downtown will be replaced with a real bridge that does not go up and down,” he said. “That really does affect traffic.”

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