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Local News

Prison haunted house a no-go for this year, iffy for next

Plans to open a haunted house this fall in the former women's prison at the old Joliet prison have fallen through. The city is trying to work on a deal for next year.
Plans to open a haunted house this fall in the former women's prison at the old Joliet prison have fallen through. The city is trying to work on a deal for next year.

Plans to open a haunted house at the old Joliet prison have fallen through for this year, and Joliet is trying to work on arrangements for 2019.

The announcement in January from Evil Intentions out of Elgin that it would open a haunted house brought a sudden reality to the prospects of converting the old Joliet prison into a destination for tourists and visitors.

But little has been done since then to renovate the women’s prison building, which was to be converted into the haunted house, Joliet Economic Development Director Steve Jones said.

“The only work that was done there was some roof work to seal up the leaks,” Jones said.

He said the city will work with Evil Intentions on a haunted aouse and other uses of the building for 2019.

Jones said Evil Intentions was working with investors that “got cold feet” as they tried to prepare for a haunted house for the 2018 Halloween season.

“They’re in the process now of trying to line up some additional investors,” Jones said, but Evil Intentions ran out of time to open this year.

Whether Evil Intentions intends to put a haunted house in the prison next year is unclear.

Jones said city staff will present a proposal to extend Evil Intentions’ lease, which runs to year’s end.

But neither Evil Intentions nor anyone else responded in June when the city made a request for proposals for a long-term re-use of the women’s prison building, which is located on the east side of Collins Street and is separated from the main prison.

The Evil Intentions website continues to advertise a haunted house at the Joliet prison.

Evil Intentions owner Mike Fitzpatrick did not return a call for comment.

The company’s marketing message at times has been at odds with city hall.

Evil Intentions announced it would open a haunted house at the prison before the city even approved a sublease to make the deal possible. When two other haunted house operators came to the City Council wanting a chance to operate at the prison, some council members questioned why the sublease was not put out to bid.

Eventually, the City Council voted, 5-4, in favor of the Evil Intentions sublease after being advised by Jones that a bidding process would take too long and make it unlikely that a haunted house could open by Halloween.

Since then, volunteers have been cleaning up the prison, which is being reopened for tours.

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